GPS soccer coaches Leland Strang and Thomas Hunter sat on the bench about 25 minutes after their match against Ensworth had ended, searching for answers. Saturday afternoon, they had none.
A controversial second-half goal was enough to give visiting Ensworth a 1-0 victory over the Bruisers. That likely will give the Lady Tigers the East/Middle region's third seed headed into the Division II-AA state playoffs, which equals a bye.
Meanwhile, a Bruisers team that had scored 41 goals in their first nine matches has scored two in their last four matches, when they've gone 1-2-1.
They outshot the Lady Tigers 13-8, with some attempts on goal but none into the net.
Ensworth (8-3-3, 4-2) scored in the 58th minute, when Sarah Francis Gregory crossed the ball into Becca Rolfe, whose header hit the crossbar and angled downward. GPS keeper Savannah Williams thought she saved it before the ball crossed the goal line, but the officials said she was too late.
"Today came down to grit," Ensworth coach Molly Burgdorf siad. "We have a lot banged up, so it was more mental. We have tremendous leadership to be able to end our regular season on a game like that."
The loss puts pressure on the Bruisers (9-3-1, 2-2-1) to claim at least a tie in their match against rival Baylor on Tuesday to claim the fourth seed -- lower than what preseason expectations and early-season success indicated.
"We're trying to put the pieces together for the postseason," Strang said. "We have a lot to be proud of and a lot of talent. We played well, but it was just one of those games we couldn't put the ball in the net.
"We heard Ensworth screaming and celebrating their win today, and I told the girls to remember it. We have to have an 80-minute effort, but we're going to use this loss to harden us."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.
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