Bears nipped by defending champs

ATLANTA -- Mountain View's reward for making the postseason in its inaugural season was a first-round match with undefeated and defending Class AAA state champ St. Pius on Thursday night.

Despite a solid defensive game and a valiant effort on offense, Mountain View saw its season come to a close, falling 2-0 to the champs of Region 5-AAA.

The loss brought the Bears' record to .500 at 8-8, while top-ranked St. Pius (16-0-1) advanced to the second round Tuesday against the Lambert-Heritage (Catoosa) winner.

"For a first-year team playing against that caliber of a team, I thought we did very well," Mountain View head coach Stan Carpenter said. "(St. Pius) didn't stay on our half of the field the whole game and I was proud of that. We had a couple of shots and a couple of missed opportunities but I'm very proud of our guys."

Mountain View opened the match with its defense settling back and allowing St. Pius to control the ball in Bear's territory in the opening minutes.

The Golden Lions took advantage just four minutes into the match when Connor Jones ricocheted one off the crossbar, creating a bit of confusion after the ball caromed hard off the ground back into the playing field.

However, the official ruled the ball had crossed the line, giving St. Pius the early 1-0 lead.

The Golden Lions' ability to control the ball most of the half paid off with five corner kicks, several good looks at the net and three more shots on goal, but the Mountain View defense settled in and repelled each successive attack the remainder of the first half.

After staying back for the first 15 minutes of the match, Mountain View's offense took advantage of a few loose balls to earn a couple of scoring threats. However, St. Pius' back line was able to thwart most of those attempts before they developed, leading to just a pair of weak shots on goal that were easily saved by keeper Andrew Wolverine.

The Bears opened the second half with their most agressive front on offense, getting two strong chances to score.

The first of those came with just under 37 minutes left to play when Jason Sayers worked his way through the left side of the box, only to have his shot skim hard off the bottom of the left post.

Thirty seconds later, Matt Kilgore created another scoring chance with a long throw in the box. Michael Mills was able to win the loose ball but his shot was just wide to the right.

After that, St. Pius stiffened on defense, keeping Mountain View from any serious looks the remainder of the match.

Even with its strong defensive play, St. Pius needed one more goal before it could rest easy and picked it up with 21:28 left when Clemson signee Stephen McGill hit the net from 20 yards out.

"We went with more of a defensive set up," Carpenter said. "We knew we weren't going to get many opportunities and we just hoped we could make the most of the ones we got. This game was good for our future. We've hard all season and have come a long way from where we started."