Mistakes in a regular-season game can hurt a team. Mistakes in a post-season contest can be deadly, and the Grimsley boys soccer team mortally wounded itself right out of the playoffs on Thursday night.
Despite dominating almost the entire game statistically, the Whirlies made three mistakes, and Charlotte Myers Park cashed in on each one for a 3-0 win in the first round of the state 4-A playoffs at Jamieson Stadium.``We made three mistakes and they scored three goals,' Grimsley coach Herk DeGraw said after his Whirlies wrapped up an 18-2-3 season. ``But that's how it goes in the playoffs. You have to be good to get here, and you have to be lucky to stay alive.'
The second-ranked Whirlies outshot the Mustangs (15-3-1) 13-4, including a 10-0 margin in the second half, but the ball never found its way into the Myers Park net.
The Mustangs, however, found the Grimsley goal three times in a span of less than six minutes in the first half.
The first score came 11 minutes into the contest. After Myers Park forward Jamey Phillips centered the ball into the Grimsley box, Whirlie goalie Brandon Sharpe couldn't get a handle on it, and another Grimsley player missed a chance to clear the ball. That left Mike Vagianos all alone with an open net - and a 1-0 Mustang lead.
The Grimsley miscues continued 55 seconds later, when Charlie Leavitt's direct kick from 25 yards out squirted through Sharpe's hands into the right corner of the net.
Mistake No. 3 came with 23:33 left in the first half. This time, Leavitt's corner kick from the right side was angled into the goal by Steve Hartell, who was standing unmolested by the near post.
After that, the Mustangs didn't get off another shot the rest of the game. Grimsley, on the other hand, went on a shooting binge in the second half, thanks to an offense that settled down and played its style of game.
``We were playing their kickball game,' DeGraw said. ``They just kicked it deep and used their speed, and we were trying for the home run every time, instead of slowing it down.'
When the Whirlies did slow it down in the second half, the shots began to come. But the goals didn't. Several times, Grimsley had golden opportunities inside the Myers Park box, but the shots either flew high and wide, or were punched into the waiting arms of Mustang goalie Cal Morgan, who made four saves in the second half.
``We created more opportunities than they did,' DeGraw said. ``But for five minutes in the first half...'