Mitchell fought until the end, rushing to steal passes to get off last-second shots. But just as it had for most of the night, Sioux Falls Roosevelt’s defense held strong.
The seventh-seeded Kernel girls soccer team was unable to add a late goal, falling 3-1 in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs on Tuesday at Joe Quintal Field.
“This team never gave up in the second half,” Mitchell coach Bob Lemon said. “We put pressure on them, we had an almost-goal late in the game and that is just the character of this team.”
Roosevelt’s tough midfield made it hard for Mitchell to maintain possession, but the Kernels still had chances throughout the match.
The No. 10 seed Rough Riders stopped three consecutive corner kicks late in the second half, then dodged a bullet as Seemela Novak’s free kick went just over the net.
“We were off, especially in the first half,” Lemon said. “We couldn’t connect on anything, and that was a little bit frustrating for some of the girls. (Roosevelt) disrupted us as much as we weren’t able to keep possession.”
Mitchell did break through once when Grace Endorf delivered a free kick deep into Roosevelt’s zone, which was met by Mia Mullenmeister kicking it in to tie the match at 1-all with 22 minutes, 53 seconds left in the first half.
The Kernels’ midfield started to wear down by halftime, though. Mitchell resorted to more substitutions in the second half, as a result.
The Rough Riders also added a second goal before half, with Hattie Giblin and Macie Haggerty, who capitalized on a turnover in the Kernels’ zone, each netting one. Despite Roosevelt adding a third goal in the second half, the Kernels’ defense made plenty of stops to keep them close.
Right before halftime, Roosevelt put a free kick in front of the net, but Mitchell was able to kick it out as time expired. Caroline Titze also made plenty of saves.
“We knew they were going to be fast and transition game was something we had to address,” Lemon said. “Defensively, I thought we were very solid. They had some breaks where they slipped through, but overall I was very pleased with the way the defense played.”
Mitchell finishes the season 8-5-1, while the Rough Riders advance to play Aberdeen Central.
“They did what we asked them to do -- play as hard as they could,” Lemon said. “They gave it all they had. Unfortunately, it didn’t break our way, but can’t take that away from this group of girls.”