"It's just utter disappointment," Lenoir City soccer coach Jesse Harris said following Monday's loss to Farragut, 8-1-2. "We played one of the best teams in the state and kept it close for a while."
There were few words shared after the game as players gathered equipment and made their way out of the stadium as if there was a rule against breaking the silence. It was not losing that upset the team, but the fashion in which they found defeat.
Coming off a season best five-game win streak, the Panthers, 7-5-2, lost 3-2 on a goal in extra time after leading 2-0 against a Farragut team coacht.com
ranks No. 4 in the state in division 1 class AAA boys' soccer.
In seven meetings against Farragut under Harris, Lenoir City has never won, and led for the first time Monday night.
Lenoir City took the lead with 18:17 on the clock in the first half when Charlie Ledbetter headed a ball over the Farragut defense to Jose Saucedo, who made a perfectly timed run to put himself behind defenders for an easy goal.
Saucedo had another chance in the first half, getting behind the defense, but left a touch on the ball just too long to gather for a shot before the keeper did his job.
The Panthers led 1-0 at the half, looking like the best team on the field from the start to the break.
In the second half, Lenoir City continued to control the tempo of the game.
Saucedo scoring again on a ball deflected off the body of the Farragut keeper and the Panthers limited the chances by their opponent.
Trailing 2-0, the Admirals picked up the tempo, subbing more frequently to keep a faster, fresher team on the field.
"They were just working, working, working and just subbing, subbing, subbing," Harris said. "They're just putting fresh horses in and we just don't have that kind of stable here."
Playing their sixth game in as many days, Lenoir City began to show fatigue, allowing a Farragut goal with 6:34 on the clock in the second half.
Harris tried to keep his players fresh, subbing in and out as much as possible. As Panthers walked slowly to the sideline, refueled at the water cooler and took a quick seat before heading right back in, Farragut kept going deeper and deeper into its bench.
With under two minutes to go, Farragut tied the game on a direct kick after a questionable foul call.
"The last minutes they were subbing every throw," Harris said. "My guys were just hanging on and just couldn't do it long enough."
With the clock stopped and the head referee keeping time on the field, each team pushed, hoping to break the tie in their favor, or at least not give up a winning goal as the anticipation of the final whistle tested the nerves of everyone in attendance.
Farragut, with momentum in their favor against a Lenoir City team that was clearly out of gas, broke the tie and won the game minutes before the final whistle.
"I can't believe my guys lasted as long as they did," Harris said. "They really killed themselves out there for me and I'm just - I'm so proud and so angry at the same time. It's tough, but I am proud of them.
"It's a very cruel game. I told my guys after the game I hate this sport a lot of the time and today's one of those days," he said. "We've played Farragut before and been out played the whole time. We weren't out played; it was an even game."
Lenoir City traveled Wednesday to Knoxville West in a game played after presstime.