Washington’s incredible run ends

Published 8:54 pm Monday, November 14, 2016

Washington was able to put together an impressive soccer season this year, despite everything it lost from last year’s team that made it to the state championship. It lost just two games in the regular season, and made it all the way to the fourth round before being derailed by Carrboro.

The Pam Pack fell, 2-1, in the quarterfinals on Saturday evening. The visitors were able to stave off the Jaguars in the first 40 minutes.

“After the first half, I was really happy with 0-0,” Washington coach Jim Kozuch said. “I do think that Carrboro had some better chances in the first half, however, I don’t think any of them were dangerous.”

Washington fell behind, 1-0, on an unfortunate play in the second half. Nearly everyone thought the ball went out of bounds after a deflection, except for the Carrboro player that took it and scored.

“It had a backspin on it, and that field is huge,” Kozuch said. “The guys came in and had the ball by himself in the box. It wasn’t the greatest goal to give up because one thing you teach the guys is you don’t stop until you hear the whistle.”

The Pam Pack’s luck didn’t change much. A Carrboro player scored after a free kick, despite being lined up offside.

“I couldn’t even get an explanation for it,” Kozuch said. A new rule says that if the ball deflects off a player on the other team, the player is now considered onside. “It’s a terrible rule, but the guy wouldn’t explain it to me if it went off of one of our guys, which they say it didn’t.”

Even with the field being 15 yards wider than Washington is used to, the Pam Pack was able to put one away on a Ben McKeithan throw in.

The deficit was cut in half. With around 20 seconds left, Kozuch went all in in an attempt to tie the game. He brought down goalkeeper Kevin Avilla for a corner kick, but no one could burry it.

“(Avilla) just missed putting one in,” Kozuch said. “It was one of those scrums — like if you’re watching a hockey game — where it’s bouncing around, and I’m thinking someone is definitely going to put it away. It just didn’t happen.”

Washington played hard, and Kozuch would rather focus on that than the circumstances leading up to the close loss.

“We held our own and I think we played great, but unfortunately, someone has to win and someone has to lose,” Kozuch said. “… I don’t think anyone would have counted on us making it to the fourth round this year. That’s one thing I tried to plant in the guys heads before the game.

“No matter what, we had already exceeded every expectation in the world. We were playing with house money, and I think we gave Carrboro a scare.”

Moreover, the 21-win follow up to last year’s campaign shows exactly how strong a program Kozuch and the Pam Pack have built.

“I think that shows we have a legitimate program. You lose 12 guys from that team then go back to the week before the state championship, I couldn’t be more proud. It’s a lot of time and a lot of commitment from a lot of guys.”

Like last season, the eyes are already on the future. It wasn’t long after the loss that players already started talking about what’s next for the Pam Pack.