With a trip to the district championship game on the line, the Maryville Spoofhounds and the Savannah Savages took the pitch at Chillicothe High School Nov. 4. Though the schools are connected by Highway 71 and within a 30-minute drive of each other, reputation and bragging rights were not the only things that this game would determine.
After Maryville lost 2-1 in overtime to Savannah in the first round of the postseason, ending their 2019-20 campaign, the ’Hounds finished their season with a record of 9-11. The game brought about the end of the Spoofhounds 2019-20 season. The most recent and final meeting of the two programs showcased some of the darkest parts of the Spoofhounds' problem throughout the course of the season.
Maryville's season was plagued with low roster size, illnesses and consistent injuries. The biggest hit to the team against the Savages was the injury attained by senior defender Jaxon Pettlon.
“One of the biggest parts was Jaxon Pettlon. He went down with something in his shoulder possibly torn,” senior midfielder Jaden Hayes said. “When you move, you kind of move with your arms a little bit, so the guy just got past him a little bit. Jaxon did all he could; he was pretty much playing on a dislocated shoulder, but they just took advantage of it.”
The game came to a close with a goal from Savannah’s Jake Stanforth in the 84th minute and a final score of 2-1 in overtime. The Spoofhounds have faced setback after setback this season and their brief visit to the postseason would be no different. Though the night would bring the end of the regular season for the ’Hounds, the game also brought about other successes for the team and individual athletes.
“We had quite a few new players. The Haer brothers, for example, both of them wound up being starters for me. They're going to be solid next year; they’re going to be starters,” coach Dale Reuter said. “Wade came on and played one of the best games of his whole high school career (Nov. 4) in that outside defender spot.”
Looking back, several players, along with Reuter, would say that this season was a rough season and somewhat of a rebuilding year. The team’s overall record and the difficult matches that they came out on top of were proving points for the program’s rebuilding success.
“My opinion, I think it was definitely a rebuilding year,” Hayes said. “Especially since we lost eight seniors, seven starters. Still being 9-11, that's not a bad year at all. I’ll take that any day.”
Many of the players had to adjust to this adversity of graduating so many starters, but the coaching staff had to make adjustments as well. This ultimately made all aspects of the game more difficult and made the act of continuing a consistent legacy even more important.
“I don’t know if it was a rebuilding year, but it was definitely a struggling year,” Reuter said. “You had to coach very well. You had to think outside the box. You had to come up with different solutions to solve the problems that were coming in. It tried me as a coach and tested me every game.”
With the Spoofhounds ending their regular season 9-11 and taking victories in the regular season against difficult opponents among the likes of Sacred Heart, Benton and first-round district opponent Savannah before the eventual elimination game, this season was more than just a struggling year.
For some, the season was more than just playing a regular high school. Many of the players played their last game with their friends or their last soccer game ever. The 2019-20 season was a year to take a step back and focus on the smaller things, while building the program up to the constant success it used to be.
The Spoofhounds’ season won’t last past the first round of the district tournament, but the memories made, Hayes said, will last a lifetime.
“(One of the biggest things is) Definitely playing with one of my good friends Jaxon Pettlon,” Hayes said. “I’ll probably never play with him again. I’ve played 10 years with him out of the 14 that I've been playing, so I won’t have those memories with him again. Looking back at the memories, we said we had a good run together.”