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Wesleyan comes up short in Athens

ATHENS -- The reaction from Wesleyan sophomore Kenzie Hediger following Wednesday night's loss to Athens Academy, 1-0, said it all.

Crouched over with tears streaming down her face, Hediger watched helplessly from the sidelines as the final seconds ticked away in the second round of the Class AA/A girls soccer state playoffs.

"It's frustrating to lose like that," Wesleyan head coach Lacy Gilbert said. "I feel like we were the better team on the field. I think (Athens Academy) played hard but I feel like we outplayed them but we just couldn't finish."

Despite numerous scoring opportunities inside of the Athens Academy zone, Wesleyan (7-10) was unable to capitalize, allowing the Spartans (14-5) to remain within striking distance.

"We just had a hard time finishing ... it's been our struggle all year," Gilbert said. "We pulled out some of our defenders that are good forwards and we just couldn't get the ball in the goal. They scored off a corner kick so I feel like we held them most of the game."

Following a scoreless first half, the Spartans nabbed the lead in the 55th minute thanks to a goal off the right foot of Mary Banister that Wesleyan failed to answer.

The Wolves simply didn't have enough magic left to pull of back-to-back wins following their dramatic first-round defeat of No. 3 Westminster (13-4) on Friday, but according to Gilbert, that wasn't the reason for the disappointing loss.

"I think our girls knew that they needed to play hard," Gilbert said. "Maybe we played down a little bit to them but we came into it ready. I think the girls were ready, they weren't overconfident by any means ... with the season we've had, we won't take anything for granted."

While the 2010 season may have ended earlier than the Wolves anticipated, Wesleyan returns all but one player for next year's team and Gilbert is hopeful that experience will be a major asset come 2011.

"We have one junior, one senior and all sophomores and a couple freshmen," Gilbert said. "We have everybody coming back basically except a senior so we got a lot for the future that's hopeful and we got some younger girls coming up that are really good but we have a lot to work on too."