WALLA WALLA - Missed scoring opportunities, defensive breakdowns and yellow cards can sometimes be expected from a young team in soccer.
All of those occurred here Saturday afternoon as the Wa-Hi girls team fell to the Wenatchee Panthers by a score of 3-2. The Blue Devils allowed the three goals, outshot their opponents and were whistled for three yellow cards.
"We had leads of 1-0 and 2-1," Wa-Hi coach Jesse Cruz said, "then our inexperience showed. We have a lot of freshman players, we learning and we are young.
"We are trying to learn about each other and the game that we are playing. I see good things from my players but it is difficult to lose like this. Especially when you know you can win and win big."
Wa-Hi outshot the Panthers 19-12 and held the shots-on-goal (SOG) advantage in the game, 10-5, but lost in the final goal tally.
Sophomore Kiana Molitor had two shots on goal early and then connected with a goal of her own at the 25 minute mark of the first half.
Molitor's goal was against back-up Panther keeper Ashton Blanksma, who was filling in for starter Jackie Bollinger, who left with an injury.
The goal scored against Blanksma was the only action she received at keeper and then Bollinger returned about five minutes after exiting to reclaim her position.
The Blue Devils kept attacking with four more shots on goal and a break away opportunity that missed just left before Wenatchee would recover to show life.
Emily Rader of the Panthers knocked a shot off the crossbar from the left corner and made another shot-on-goal before Caroline Dahl booted one past Blue Devil keeper Alexis Sanchez - the shots and goal coming within quick succession- all just two minutes apart.
Next Brigit Lyons of the Blue Devils took a pass ahead from Brittany Gibbar and dribbled several times before taking a diving, sliding shot that ran left to right and past Bollinger into the net. This goal was made with less than two minutes remaining in the half and made it 2-1, Wa-Hi at the intermission.
The two teams traded shots early in the second half until tempers and emotions flared. Gibbar was called for a yellow card for tripping. The shot off of receiving the free kick just missed a Panther goal.
A foul was called a little later on the Blue Devils and the resulting free kick was successful at getting the ball ahead to Rader for a Panther goal.
This goal made it 2-2 at the fifteen minute mark left in the game.
The action continued and another Panther goal was scored at the three and a half minute mark.
Lynette Nygard smacked a shot from 25 yards away off the goal post, off the crossbar and off the ground-apparently crossing the goal line for the score.
Cruz received a yellow card arguing the call with the linesman who made the call.
"I just wish the linesman would have been in better position to make the call," Cruz said. "That is what I was arguing, I wouldn't have been arguing if he was close enough to make the good call."
A short time later Molitor would receive a yellow card for elbowing after seemingly being thrown to the ground seconds earlier without a call being made.
The Panthers got into the act with a yellow from Ali Everhart for slide tackling.
In the last two minutes, the best chance the Blue Devils had to score was just outside the box on the right that yellow card from Everhart on the free kick. Viri Ibarra took the kick and smacked it near the goal but no one was able to knock it in.
The Blue Devils fall to 0-6 on the season, 0-4 in Big Nine Conference play.
"I'll say that we have been playing fairly good soccer," Cruz said. "Something is missing though whether it is the heart, the mind or the soul - we need to find it.
"It is frustrating when we are 0-4 in league and the games we have lost, we have had leads and still not found a way to pull it out. We need to find a way to win. We'll get there, it is still early in conference play."
The Blue Devils play again Tuesday at home at 4 p.m. versus Moses Lake.