CLAYTON — After clinching the West Central Conference title on Monday against North Putnam, the Cascade boys’ soccer team hoped to put a bow on the regular season with a Senior Night win on Tuesday.
Bethesda Christian refused to let that happen, as Ethan McNaughton had both of the Patriots’ goals in a 2-0 victory.
“We play them next week in sectionals as well, so it was good to come out here and make a statement tonight and play really hard,” Bethesda coach Steve Bushre said. “They had 26 guys dressed and we’ve got 13, so it felt good.
“Next week will be a clean slate, because they know what we’re doing and we know what they’re doing. It should be a great match-up.”
Bethesda (4-6-3) and Cascade (7-7) will meet next Wednesday on the Patriots’ home field to decide whose season continues and whose ends. The Patriots already ensured the Cadets’ disappointment in having their five seniors drop their final home game.
“This was definitely not how I wanted to see this one go,” Cascade coach Logan Faulkner said. “We played last night and it was a pretty rough game, so a lot of our guys were tired, but I’m not going to make excuses. We just didn’t play together.”
Bushre said scouting indicated the Patriots had to lock down on Cascade’s Chase Spencer and Brady Bell, and the strategy worked in preventing the Cadets from getting into an offensive flow.
“We knew they were keys to their attack, and I think we applied a little more pressure than they were used to,” Bushre said.
Bethesda had a chance to jump out just eight minutes in on a penalty kick by Triston McNaughton, but a solid save by Josh Masner kept the game scoreless.
Hayden Suter had Cascade’s best shots on goal in the first half, but saves by Jake Mlagan assured the teams of a scoreless first 40 minutes.
After Cascade’s Senior Night ceremony at halftime, Bethesda came out on the offensive, as Andrew Warrick put two shots on goal in the first five minutes.
With 27 minutes remaining, Ethan McNaughton scored on a penalty kick as he found the right corner of the net. Eight minutes later, the Bethesda sophomore scored again for a comfortable two-goal margin.
“Ethan is very quick and skilled, and he and his brother (Triston) work together pretty well,” Bushre said. “He’s had a good season and we’re glad we’ll have him two more years.”
Cascade had two scoring looks by Suter in the final five minutes, but neither got by Mlagan.
“Combinations weren’t there tonight and our passes were off,” Faulkner said. “We just didn’t show up today. It was definitely on us.”
After a lengthy and emotional speech to his team afterward, Faulkner said it’s up to the Cadets to seize the moment next Wednesday.
“It has been a good season, with our first conference championship in a long time,” Faulkner said. “It goes by so fast, and tonight they played like they have a lot more time. I just tried to convey to them that the end can come on Wednesday if they don’t come ready.”