EAST BEND — When a team goes 18-5-1 and outplays the eventual 2A state champion before falling in penalty kicks in the fourth round of the playoffs, one can say it was a good season.
Or wonder about what could have been.
“I have mixed feelings about the season,” Forbush Coach Kenan James said. “We had some holes to fill. But we played quality competition early and I think we responded well.
“All the good teams had a part of reconstructing us.”
The season began with wins over 4A Davie and R.J. Reynolds; losses to 4A West Forsyth and Mount Tabor; and a 1-1 tie with Watauga. None of those games were at home.
“Sometimes we had trouble finishing,” James said. “We certainly liked how we created opportunities.
“Toward the end of the season, they began to gel and click,” James continued, adding that the back line and the midfield had a lot to do with that. The midfield, he said, began to react to the game. “They knew when they needed to go forward and they knew when they needed to drop back,” he said.
“It was a continual process. It culminated in some good playoff games.”
James said he tried different combinations in midfield before sophomores Nancy Rios and Madison York found regular homes there. “Nancy has such a quality to her game,” James said. “She has the technical ability and the vision. She really changed the way that we played.
“Madison will sort of pick you apart with passes,” he continued. “She’ll lull you to sleep. She took that space. She saved some big goals.”
The Class of 2014 — Maddi Morsch, Tiffany Kennedy, Haley Lindsay, Victoria Cohn, Ashlyn Vestal, Natalie York and Haley Trivette — played in 16 rounds of playoffs: five as freshmen and juniors; two as sophomores; and four as seniors.
But it’s still not fun to end your season in a penalty-kick loss. “You are either going to be heartbroken or thrilled,” James said. “It’s going to be 2-1, 1-0, a penalty-kick shootout.
“When you are part of a quality team and program, you accept that.”
A penalty-kick shootout ended this Forbush season at West Stokes. Although Shannon Holden scored one of only five goals West Stokes keeper Liz Nail and the Wildcats gave up in their final 20 games, West Stokes tied it and sent the game to overtime.
“We’d love to have finished that game,” James said. “But I’m pleased that we found our game.
“That last game was the hardest that this group of seniors has played. I don’t know that we caught her in a bad position,” James said of Nail. “But we did test her.”
West Stokes went on to claim the state 2A title with a 2-0 win over Washington Saturday.
The West Stokes game gives the Falcons a starting point for next season. “I think it’s a goal to point to,” James said. “I think they grasped the level that they played at.”
Forbush returns seven starters. “Some of the girls off the bench were tremendous,” James said, adding there are freshmen coming in who will help as well.
“I’m excited about where we are,” James said. “”We’ll be a little young. It’ll be a process.
“That’s part of the fun in it.”
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @elkinareasports.