The ending of the regular season was difficult for Tri-City United's boys and girls soccer teams and may have even set back their prospects at sections.
On Tuesday, the boys traveled to Mankato Loyola while the girls stayed at the TCU field to battle the Crusaders. Both of the Titans teams were shut out by Loyola. The girls fell 8-0 while the boys dropped 12-0.
"We are banged up, nursing a lot of injuries, playing teams that are far more technically advanced, experienced, bigger, faster, and are simply at a different level than we are," said Tri-City United Coach Carey Langer.
The Titans have had a difficult season overall for both teams. The boys team netted some recent wins against Schaefer and Hope Academy, but the boys and girls have spent this season playing against higher skilled teams with more experience, as the soccer program at TCU is in only its second year.
Langer credited the girls' loss on Thursday to he team's lack of experience relative to Mankato Loyola, but Langer believed the boys lost because they weren't prepared to play that day.
"If we played that game again, I guarantee you that we would be far more competitive than that," said Langer. "We have played better teams and not been beaten like that. We just didn't show up mentally and it snowballed very quickly."
Both teams have also suffered injuries to key players, which could make the upcoming section tournament all the more challenging. Kris Ruiz and Alex Balcazar have stood out as the Titan's leading scorers all season, but both players will be out of the game come sections. On the girls' side, offensive midfielder Ava Dresow has consistently delivered high level performances but the girls may be missing her for sections too.
"That will make it difficult for us to compete at a level we have this year," said Langer. "I'm proud of the improvement we have made as players this year and equally proud of the way we have finished strong even in games that had very lopsided scores."
Though Langer was not confident in a section win, he did see a path to improvement for the Titans soccer program.
"We have been losing big, so the next step is to lose close," said Langer. "If that step begins, then the next level is winning close and as the program ages, you can emerge as a dominant program. That will take a lot of work, patience, perseverance, and dedication by our athletes. But before we get there, we'll see what we can put together during sectional playoffs. I certainly can't guarantee a win, but I can guarantee my teams will not give up and will work hard until the last second."