THE Academy girls lost 3-1 to a very good Lurgan College side on Monday.
After a nervous start by the Academy, the first clear chance at goal fell to Katie McKee; unfortunately she was bundled off the ball by a combination of the Lurgan sweeper and keeper.
It was Lurgan who scored first: a quick counter saw the Lurgan defender make a 30 yard run up the left-hand side, then a neat interchange got the ball into the Academy circle and a close range finish resulted.
The rest of the half was fought out in the middle of the pitch, but just when it looked as if half-time would be reached only a goal down, disaster struck.
The Academy defence had two chances to clear an innocuous shot but fluffed their lines, resulting in a penalty corner. The shot from the corner seemed to be going in high but the deflection of the keeper’s stick was viewed by the umpire as the cause and a goal awarded.
The second half continued to be played at a high tempo and with a high level of skill displayed by both teams. Academy matched Lurgan in this half and deserved to get back in the game when at the second attempt Abbey Thompson drilled the ball past the Lurgan keeper. This signalled a renewed vigour in the Academy team and a nervousness in the Lurgan ranks.
Indeed the Academy, through Lucy McKee, managed to encroach into the Lurgan circle on a number of occasions. Unfortunately while the umpire spotted infringements she mysteriously viewed it an advantage to play on, rather than award the penalty corners.
Whilst pushing for the equaliser and time running out, the inevitable counterattack came in the form of a strong shot from a Lurgan player which was deflected up into the roof of the Academy net, giving Sarah McCabe no chance - the second deflected goal! Game over and a valiant cup run ended.
This young Academy squad have performed well and with 14 of the 16 squad returning they must fancy their chances next year!
Best wishes to the Lurgan College girls for the semi-final.