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SOUTHWESTERN LOSES HEARTBREAKER TO WESTERON OREGON 9-8 AT NATIONALS

[5/12/09] For the 5th and final time in 2009 the Bucs headed to Nationals. For the first time, however, the Bucs were the #8 seed playing the Western Oregon Wolves, the #9 seed. Both teams had played well in completely different parts of the country during the season, and both had solid years on the field.

This year the Bucs headed to Denver for the Tournament at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, a wonderful venue with the Rockies in the background. After a great practice to stretch out from the long bus ride, the Bucs made their way to Olive Garden for some carbo loading the night before the game.

Both teams were ready to go on game day and the Bucs came out quickly, scoring the first 4 goals and taking a 4-0 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the first quarter. However, the Wolves showed why they have been so good the past couple of years, by maintaining focus and poise throughout the game.

As the game went on, the Bucs, despite all the scouting, were not able to make the slides where and when needed, and made many mistakes on the defensive and offensive ends to give the Wolves all the room they needed to climb aback into the game. By halftime the score was 5 -5. and By the end of the third quarter, the score was tied at 6-6.

the bucs knew this was going to be on that went down to the wire. The Wolves struck first and often in the fourth finally taking their first lead and adding two more on to make the score 9-6 with a little over 7 minutes left in the game. The Bucs showed passion, however, and were able to find the net twice in the net couple of minutes to bring the score to 9-8 with a little over 4 minutes left.

Credit must be given to WOU, as they did not crack. The Bucs had the ball for a majority of the final 4 minutes of the game, but poor decisions on both ends of the field led to loss of possession several times. It seemed, as though the Bucs were out of gas. With a couple of last minute chances thwarted, the Bucs saw their final Nationals tournament end in a heartbreaking first round 9-8 loss. It was clear the game could have been won by either team on any given day. This day, unfortunately, was the Wolves.

The Bucs played well enough to win and knew coming in they had to play a complete game. In the end the Bucs made too many mistakes that were easy fixes if they were on their game. Credit must be given to WOU for fighting through adversity and finding a way to prevail.

As for the Bucs, they now knew where their long and storied journey would end. With only a consolation game waiting between them and the program, the Bucs took some time to regroup and prepare for the last game ever as a club team.

All the players really did show the nation that we belonged and were good enough. Heath and Webb played outstanding games. So did Carney, Mock and Tomasz. Everyone got on the field and hustled the entire day and the Bucs had a chance to win in the end.

- Bill Bowman