Trailing at halftime during yesterday's Class 3 boys soccer quarterfinal at Rock Bridge, Kickapoo coach Phil Hodge was confident his high-scoring team would find a way to even the score.
"We talked about that at halftime," Hodge said. "How 40 minutes is a long time. Thirty minutes is a long time. Twenty minutes is a long time.
Even 10 minutes is a long time."
By the end of a scoreless second half, Hodge's state-ranked squad had run out of time.
Unable to find a crack in an attacking Rock Bridge defense, the Chiefs were shut out for only the second time in a season-ending 1-0 defeat.
"This time of year, if you can make a play, that's what it gets to be about," Hodge said. "That goal seems to shrink a little bit."
Scoring had not been a problem for Kickapoo, which ended the regular season ranked fifth in the Class 3 coaches' poll and was seeking its first state semifinal appearance since 2007. The Chiefs (22-4) had scored at least two goals in all but four of their games and had combined for seven goals in their previous two playoff wins.
Deploying a rare three-back defensive set up and keeping a close eye on the dreadlocks of dangerous Chiefs' forward Hunter Durham, Rock Bridge (21-7-1) kept Kickapoo's scoring opportunities to a minimum.
"They came out with a lot of intensity, and our intensity just didn't match that," Durham said. "We could never get the game settled down.
"We never got to the way we play on the ground and playing it to feet and making our passes and making runs off passes. We just never played our game."
Relying on a backfield rotation of seniors Jordan Reiske, Nickolas White, Brian Gunter, Andrew Barnes and junior Bailey Goyette, Rock Bridge coach Alex Nichols said his team played the game it had to play to beat the Chiefs.
"Our guys were ready," Nichols said. "They respected the opponent, but at the end of the day we did our thing.
"We don't necessarily man mark, but, they knew who the main players were, and they shut them down."
The game's only goal came in the 31st minute when Rock Bridge midfielder Tyler Bales beat teammate Eli Sherman to a loose ball and slipped a deflected shot past Kickapoo goalkeeper Jesse Wentz.
"Me and Eli ended up hitting it about the same time," Bales said. "It hit off a defender and went in.
"The ball was just bouncing around. I had to put it in."
The game's only goal allowed Rock Bridge to advance to the state semifinals for the third consecutive year and ended the high school careers of 13 Kickapoo seniors.