Riverside’s men’s soccer team lost 3-2 in the Bull City Cup finals to DSA on Thursday, Aug. 28 at Durham County Stadium.
The Pirates had just come off an exciting win against Northern in penalties, and was hyped up for the title game.
Shortly after kickoff it was clear that the game was going to be an incredibly physical. Riverside scored first off of Brandan Whitaker’s header from a corner kick. Then, about 20 minutes later, due to a questionable foul call inside the 18-yard box, the Pirates conceded a penalty, which allowed DSA to even the score at one.
During halftime, head coach John Timmons told his players, who were clearly frustrated with the referee, not to let the calls bother them.
“They’re in the past,” he said. “All we can do is get out there and play together, just like against Northern.”
But the officiating continued to frustrate the players in the second half. When DSA scored again midway through the second half, the 3-1 deficit felt even worse.
Senior captain Nathan Compton believes that the officiating was not as good as it should have been.
”We deserved better,” Compton said. “I wish the refs would’ve given us a fair chance.”
The Pirates responded with a goal of their own, but the game ended 3-2.
Several players were disappointed to lose in the finals, but they were also quick to note that this is just the beginning of the season. And with a new coach, a slight adjustment period is expected.
Coach John Timmons is in his first year at Riverside, but this is far from his coaching debut. Timmons has been coaching at the high school and club levels since 1997. In addition, he is the former head coach of the North Carolina Central men’s team.
Riverside’s loss to DSA couldn’t have been more different from its semi-finals win over Northern. Excited for another rivalry match-up, Timmons reminded them during the pregame huddle that ”In the end, it’s just another game.”
It was back and forth the whole game, with Northern striking first in the twenty-first minute of play. However, it did not take long for senior Brandan Whitaker to equalize for the Pirates.
”We have to play five minutes at a time,” Timmons told his team at halftime, “and it’ll all work out.”
It only took Northern two minutes in the second half to take the lead once again. This had a clear deflating impact on most of the team, as they had been fighting hard all game long. But this did not keep Junior Jeremy Aguilar, from scoring in the sixty-second minute to even the score again.
Intensity built up for Riverside’s defense, as Northern’s attack kept coming strong and fast towards the end of regulation time, but they held up despite some questionable foul calls in Northern’s favor. This meant that the spotlight now shifted to Junior keeper Colin Pitts to step up and perform in the penalty shootout.
He did just that, saving the first penalty taken by Northern’s captain, Faustino Chavez. Then, three penalty kicks later, Northern missed again. This meant that it was up to Senior Daniel Cardenas to send his team to the finals, which is exactly what he did, slotting the penalty in the bottom right corner.