"I can't say enough," North Putnam head coach Willie Gaskins said. "Our girls played a phenomenal game with the conditions, the weather, the two mud pits at each goal -- Claire is a mess. A well played game by the girls on both sides."
After falling behind 1-0 at the break, North Putnam regrouped at halftime and began the second half with a vicious attack at the Athenian defense.
It's tenacious play paid off quickly as senior Brooke Matthews scored less than two minutes into the half to knot the match at 1-all. North Putnam continued to attack, but Crawfordsville stepped up its play and kept the Cougars away from the net.
Just past the midway point in the half, Crawfordsville was able to penetrate the North Putnam defense and find enough daylight for Kristen Flynn to score what proved to be the game-winning goal with 16:24 remaining.
As the clock dropped below three minutes remaining, North Putnam looked to be on its way to possibly tying the match, but just as the Cougars seized an advantage, the whistles blew and a call of offsides was made.
Gaskins protested from the sideline, making his point that the Athenians had a player by the goal, which would have made the play legal. However, the call stood and the Cougars continued to battle. They were cited for another offside penalty a short time later.
They final shot at extending the game came with a minute left in the match when they were awarded two corner kicks in a row.
Unfortunately, Crawfordsville was able to clear the ball and outlast the Cougars for the win.
"They squeaked one in, we squeaked one in and they get an extra one," Gaskins said. "A phenomenal game by my defense, my offense, my forwards, my mids, my seniors -- everybody.
"I was really happy with the triangles. We put together the triangles, finally, and it worked."
Asked how difficult it was to see the flow of the match turn on two late offsides call, Gaskins acknowledge it was tough, but said it shouldn't come down to a referee's call.
"I'm sad to see it happen like that, to maybe be the calls that control the game, but in the end if we put one in we don't have to worry about what the refs call," he said. "I don't mean anything bad towards the girls or anybody here, but we had our chances, we had our opportunities and this is a big learning game for some of my young players."
While North Putnam bids farewell to six seniors, the future looks bright for the team. Perhaps the most difficult position to field in soccer is that of the keeper.
North Putnam's Claire Sims played keeper for the Cougars this season as a freshman and Gaskins said with her, and much of the rest of the team returning next season, good things are in store for the program.
North Putnam 0 1 -- 1
Crawfordsville 1 1 -- 2
C -- Whicker 36:02
NP -- Matthews 38:40
C -- Flynn 16:24