• September 15, 2014

Storm delays put soccer coaches in tough spot

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Posted: Sunday, April 8, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:01 am, Tue Sep 25, 2012.

The McDonald's just off I-35 in Hillsboro was packed as drivers kept pulling off the interstate, looking for shelter.

No one wanted to be the next one to have their windshield explode after getting pummeled by a baseball-sized hailstone.

No one wanted to be in the path of a tornado.

And, certainly, no one wanted to be there, either.

I know I didn't. But Tuesday, that is where I was stuck as I waited out not only the storm, but the decisions of soccer coaches, who desperately wanted to get in their playoff games and avoid playing on back-to-back days.

That is why the Copperas Cove girls and Harker Heights boys soccer teams were huddled in the Corsicana High School gymnasium, waiting out the storm.

It was a day of misery. A day when nothing went as planned.

As I left McDonald's and drove further toward the game, cars were pulled off to the side of the road. They wanted to either watch the funnel cloud or simply were too scared to keep driving - even if it was clearly off in the distance and headed in the other direction.

And yet, the games were played. After all, nothing stops a soccer match.

When I first called Harker Heights coach Jared Cruddas, he said he heard the storms were supposed to stop around 6 p.m. and hopefully there wouldn't be too long of a delay. When, I called Copperas Cove coach Hagen Streckel, he thought the same thing.

When I arrived to Corsicana, just before 6 p.m., Cruddas and his team were heading to the stadium.

"What they told us was that the latest we will probably start is 7:15," he said as he got onto the bus.

At 6 p.m., lightning struck. Then again. And again and again.

The last time the sky lit up was a little after 7 p.m., and after a 2-hour delay, Harker Heights started its match after 8 p.m.

The Copperas Cove girls, who were slated to play the second half of the doubleheader? After 10 p.m.

And when the Lady Bulldawgs walked off the field sullen and desolate after having their season come to an end, it was approaching midnight.

Should the games have been played?

Nope. They should have been rescheduled before any of the teams left for Corsicana, just like the Belton soccer teams had moved their games against Mesquite Horn to Wednesday.

But they weren't, and it wouldn't have done anyone any good to drive another three hours each way the next day and try to play, either.

So they played anyway.

And both the Lady Bulldawgs and Knights lost.

Harker Heights got off to a fast start and then fizzled out. Copperas Cove played some of its best defense all season, but didn't have the legs to push the ball up the field and generate any offense.

Of course, neither did the Lady Lobos.

They scored two goals on long-range kicks.

It was easy to tell that both teams had stayed up past their bedtimes.

I can't say for sure the delay had an effect on the outcome. Once the whistle blows, both teams had to start playing and everyone had to be tired.

I know I was. It was a long day.

And it certainly had an effect on the level of play - but the outcomes? Those might not have changed unless a tornado had swept away half of Longview's teams.

But some foresight would have been better.

At least then I wouldn't have had to eat at McDonald's.

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