Despite scoring first and taking a 2-1 lead at the halftime break, the Cougar soccer team fell 5-3 to the Salem Spartans Tuesday. The loss drops Pulaski to 3-7-1 on the season and 0-4-1 in River Ridge District play.
“We’ve got to find some heart,” said Cougar Head Coach Ricky Wright. “We work hard in practice, there’s no question about that, but we need more heart. We need some confidence too. We came out and took the lead, but when we fell behind you could just see our shoulders drop. We can’t do that. We also can’t complain about and blame the officiating when things go wrong. There are going to be bad calls in any game. It happens. If you play well enough you overcome those calls. Right now, we’re not playing well enough to overcome them.”
Pulaski took the lead with 23:53 remaining in the first half. Austin Talbert connected with an inbound pass from Cody Linkous to head the ball past the Spartan keeper to give the Cougars the 1-0 lead. Salem answered immediately, catching the Cougars off guard less than a minute later to tie the game at 1-1.
Both teams continued to press the ball, and with 17:44 remaining in the half Daegan Friend sent a pass across the front of the Spartan goal. Talbert attempted another header, which bounced off the Spartan keepers hands. The speedy forward attacked the loose ball to move the score to 2-1.
The Spartans tied the game with just over 33 minutes remaining in the game, and then with 22 minutes remaining Salem took a 3-2 lead. After being awarded a questionable penalty kick less than a minute later, the Spartans were leading 4-2 and things began to look grim for the Cougars.
Talbert completed a hat trick at the 21 minute mark, scoring his third goal of the night on a penalty kick after being tackled inside the Spartans box. Salem scored a final goal with just under 11 minutes remaining in the contest to secure the 5-3 win.
Pulaski County only had four legitimate shots on the Spartan goal, while Salem had 15 shots. Chandler Quesenberry had 9 saves in goal for the Cougars.
“We’ve got to find a combination that works,” said Wright. “The first half of our district schedule is over. We can’t get those games back, so we’re going to have to figure out a way to start clicking as a team and get the job done. We’ve got good kids, but they are down on themselves right now. They’re going to have to pick their heads up and play like I know they can. If we can do that, we have the potential to make some noise through the rest of the season. If we can’t find our hearts and start clicking as a team, then we’re going to have problems.”
The Cougars will be back in action on Friday when they host the Christiansburg Blue Demons. Junior varsity action will begin at 5:30, with the varsity contest set to begin at 7 p.m.