The Rolla soccer team (16-10-1) traveled down to Glendale for Sectionals on Tuesday, Nov. 6. The Bulldogs couldn't get their offense going all night long in a 2-0 loss to their conference rival.
Glendale came out of the gates firing and never let the Bulldogs get settled in. The Falcons started with a free kick in the fifth minute, which started a sustained run that lasted several minutes. Glendale launched a few shots over the net and Rolla keeper Erique Cezar was able to turn away a few shots on goal, which kept the game scoreless early.
Rolla's best offensive chance came in the 14th minutes. Jarret Gabrielle was given a great serve down the right side of the pitch and fired a shot near the top of the keeper zone. Unfortunately, Glendale's keeper was there for the save on a shot that went just above his head. Rolla wasn't able to turn the drive into a sustained offensive run, however, as Glendale quickly transitioned into another offensive run of their own.
The Falcons spent a lot of the first half in Rolla's defensive zone and they eventually broke through int he 23rd minute. The keeper zone was packed with a mix of Glendale and Rolla players, as Grant Compere fired a shot near the goal. Ryan Feeney was there in front of the net to redirect the shot with a header, which was just out of the reach of Cezar in goal. The goal gave Glendale a 1-0 lead.
Rolla had a couple of chances late in the half, but they couldn't find the back of the net. First Tanner Mertens launched a shot in the 28th minute that ended up going just above the crossbar. Then as the half was ending, Rolla had the chance for a corner kick, but were forced to rush as the seconds ticked away and the Bulldogs went into the half trailing 1-0.
The second half mirrored the first, as Glendale kept constant pressure on the Bulldog defense. The Rolla defenders played well throughout the game, but couldn't overcome the amount of time Glendale spent on Rolla's end. Glendale was able to score again in the second half the exact way they scored in the first, Compere fired a shot near the goal in the 52nd minute and Feeney redirected the shot with a header for a goal, extending their lead to 2-0. Rolla had a couple of chances later in the half, but couldn't quite connect. Gabrielle was able to break free after a great pass from the midfield, but the shot went straight into the Glendale keeper in the 62nd minute. Mohammad Alamaldien then tried to find the senior forward in a crowded box with four minutes left to play, but Gabriele couldn't get a clean shot through the Falcon defense. The final minutes ticked away and Glendale won the match 2-0.
"You've got to give them credit, they came out and played," said Rolla head coach Mike Howard about Glendale. "They wanted to win the game for sure and they took it to us for most of the game...Defensively, I thought we did a good job. Obviously we made a mistake on that second goal, but Lane (Mabe) played incredible."
It's always tough to lose the last game of the season, especially for a senior class that has been the heart of the Rolla soccer program for the last few seasons. As usual, Rhys Proffitt was great for the Rolla defense to go along with solid play from seniors Gabrielle and Carson Arnold up top and Adeeb Massri in the middle. Mertens spent time back with the defense and as a midfielder and also played well in his final high school game.
"It's been a lot of fun. They're a great group of kids," said coach Howard. "Obviously unless you win the State Championship, you're going to lose your last game of the season. You wish it wasn't tonight, but Glendale's got a great team and a great program and they were by far the better team tonight."