EVANSVILLE -- The No. 8 Greencastle's boys' soccer squad's run in the IHSAA tournament came to an end in the semi-state Saturday afternoon, losing in the first game to eventual semi-state champions and No. 2 Evansville Mater Dei 6-3 at the Roberts Stadium Complex.
The Tiger Cubs were first on the board barely five minutes into the contest after Evan Smith lashed a shot off goalkeeper Zach Price's hands and in for a 1-0 lead.
That lead would not last a minute. A free kick give away by Greencastle was sent in and sweeper Josh Weinzapfel headed it in unmarked to even the scores.
Seven minutes later, the Wildcats took the lead. Another free kick conceded by the Tiger Cubs 25 yards from goal was hooked in by Travis Wannemuehler to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.
The score was 3-1 after Kyle Wilson netted from close range and was increased further by Wannemuehler after beating the Greencastle backline and chipping goalkeeper Zane Miller.
Wannemuehler completed the hat-trick four minutes from halftime after giving Greencastle defender Paul Heithaus the slip at midfield, racing towards the visiting goal and beat Miller with the shot for a 5-1 halftime lead.
Mater Dei settled down and subbed frequently in the second half as Greencastle tried to find a route back into the game.
The contest was put out of reach midway through the second half. Dylan Ambrose fired a looping shot towards goal from 35 yards out that took a fortuitous bounce into the net for a 6-1 lead.
Greencastle would get two goals back in the final five minutes, the first from Mitchell Ball after he redirected a Sonny Basham header, which came from a Marcos Usso cross.
Basham would then get a tally of his own after heading in a Brandon Query corner two minutes from time.
The goals cut the deficit but time quickly ran out on the Tiger Cubs, as Mater Dei advanced and eventually won the semi-state over No. 3 Lawrenceburg 5-0.
Greencastle head coach Dave Lilly said that the start was ideal, but the goals that followed from the hosts were often self-inflicted.
"The shot Evan hit to put us up was a laser. We were feeling pretty good, but it only lasted a minute. We fouled in a threatening position, they get a shot at us and (Weinzapfel) heads it in," Lilly said.
"We gave up some goals we couldn't give up. We gave up goals to a good team that we couldn't afford to do."
The second half goals were too little, too late to affect the final outcome, but the goals were important nonetheless for Lilly and the squad.
"To our credit, we regrouped and played better in the second half. We figured out what they were doing and adjusted for it. Our mission was to beat them in the second forty minutes and we did," Lilly said.
"We beat them 2-1 in the second half. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done in the first half. It easily could have been a 3-3, going into overtime game if we didn't make the little mistakes that gave up goals."
While the end came too soon for the players, the achievement of the squad is one that Lilly said the players could be proud of.
"The season has been a great one. With this senior class, there's been a lot of talk about their accomplishments," Lilly said.
"It's indicative of the way this group of seniors has played their whole careers, not just this season. They're the guys we rode to get here; they're the guys that scored the late goals today."
"I know they're a disappointed group right now, but, hey, we're one win shy of where we wanted to be, and that was winning the first game against the favored Mater Dei squad," Lilly added.
"They're playing at home, they're the number two team in our class and we came up short, but it was closer than the 6-3 score line reflected."
Greencastle finished the season with a record of 17-4.
At Roberts Stadium Complex, Evansville, Indiana
IHSAA Class A Semi-State
Greencastle 1 2 -- 3
Mater Dei 5 1 -- 6
G -- 34:46 Query 0-1
MD -- 34:46 Weinzapfel 1-1
MD -- 27:16 Wannemuehler 2-1
MD -- 23:43 Wilson 3-1
MD -- 21:15 Wannemuehler 4-1
MD -- 3:47 Wannemuehler 5-1
MD -- 0:23 Hammett Yellow Card
MD -- 19:04 Ambrose 6-1
G -- 4:57 Ball 6-2
G -- 2:22 Basham 6-3