Knights end tough stretch with loss to Ridgecroft

Published 7:48 pm Monday, September 19, 2016

PANTEGO — Messiah Barnes scored Terra Ceia’s lone goal in the second half of Monday’s loss to a talented Ridgecroft club. The 3-1 loss saw the Knights fall to 3-5-1 on the season and also marked the end of a grueling stretch.

In addition to a five-win Ridgecroft team, Terra Ceia has recently squared off with Wayne County Day. The Chargers are 7-2 on the season. They’ve outscored their opposition 41-7 through nine games this year.

“I really like our team,” coach Nate Burns said. “We just came through a brutal part of our schedule. We played the No. 2 team in the state twice and we’ve lost twice to these guys. Of our five losses, they’ve all been quality teams. … We wanted to play the best we can and we wanted to play top-notch competition. We did.”

The Knights fell behind about midway through the first half when they conceded a goal after a close free kick. They nearly drew level when Quentin Van Essendelft had an open look at goal that saw a hard shot go right to the Rams’ goalkeeper.

They had another offensive flurry in the waning moments of the opening half. With the ball jarring around the penalty area, Terra Ceia’s forwards struggled to hold onto the ball and get a clean shot off.

“It definitely would have been different going into halftime 1-1,” Burns said. “We had plenty of chances before that and we had plenty of chances in the second half. We need to calm down and put it in the back of the net and not be so excited.”

Johannes Van Essendelft nearly knotted the game early in the second half. He had an opportunity, but couldn’t get all of the shot. The Knights, as a whole, struggled a bit with finishing.

“I feel like we could have finished a lot better,” Burns said. “If we don’t choke up in front of the goal and we finish our chances. I feel like we had more chances than they did. Typically we finish those. It doesn’t happen every game.”

Messiah Barnes runs down a ball, hoping to set up a counterattack play.

While Terra Ceia’s offense was able to generate chances, it didn’t run as smoothly as Burns would have liked. The Knights struggled to maintain possession and oftentimes lost 50-50 balls.

“For some reason, our touch was not on tonight. We weren’t controlling it,” Burns said. “We were beating people to it, but we weren’t controlling it or making good passes.”

Ridgecroft later doubled its lead on a penalty kick. Terra Ceia had another chance to find twine. The Knights had another burst of offense thanks to some confusion following a corner kick, but the Rams’ defense remained perfect.

Still trailing 2-0, the Rams again denied Quentin Van Essendelft — this time on a penalty kick he aimed to the keeper’s left.

Ridgecroft pushed its lead to 3-0 by beating an aggressive Austin Roscoe in goal. He had a good showing in net, despite conceding three goals.

“The guy (for Ridgecroft) scored a hat trick. He’s a phenomenal player and a German exchange student,” Burns said. “He’s been playing his whole life. I feel like our defender Darius (Blackledge) did a good job of containing him and making everything tough for him. But when somebody is that good, you take your chances.”

Barnes ruined Ridgecroft’s clean sheet with a late goal on the counterattack.