The season may have come to an end last Tuesday night for the Watertown-Mayer boys’ soccer team, but to head coach Jeff Shults, the 2-0 loss to Orono showed just how far his team came over the course of the season.
As the No. 12 seed, taking on fifth-seeded Orono, the Royals entered the road game as significant underdogs. But the Royals managed to frustrate Orono with a strong defensive effort in the first half, going into halftime tied 0-0. Orono, which improved to 8-6-3 with the win, managed to score two second half goals for the win, but Shults said it didn’t diminish what his team accomplished against Orono.
“We played one of the best games of the season,” Shults said. “It shows that during the season the players gained a lot of experience and we kept improving. We found the right players for the right positions, and we played real well against Orono. We were proud of how we finished the season.”
The Royals spent much of the night playing defense, but allowed Orono very few good looks at the net. And, while almost the entire game was spend with Orono on the attack, the Spartans managed just two goals and the Royals threatened with several counterattack opportunities, including one late in the first half from Matt Scanlon that nearly gave the Royals the lead.
“We defended as a unit real well,” Shults said. “We counterattacked dangerously, and (senior goalkeeper) Brandon Kuntz gave the team lots of confidence by the way he performed and the way he communicated.”
After beating Watertown-Mayer, Orono went on to beat fourth-seeded Holy Family 2-0. Orono eventually lost to top-seeded Waconia, 3-1.
With the loss, the Royals finished the season 11-12 overall. Look for a season wrap-up story on the Royals in the coming weeks.