HAMILTON — Brayden Eldridge shared his frustration Tuesday night. The Badin High School senior was taken out of his element after having a dominant first half of the season.
McNicholas notched a first-half goal by Nicholas Geiser on a questionable offsides no-call, and the Rams couldn’t get Eldridge and their offense into the mix in a 1-0 loss at Spooky Nook.
“We just didn’t bring it,” said Eldridge, who has a Greater Catholic League Coed-best 25 goals. “I thought we were losing the ball midfield just about every time. We weren’t connecting passes, we started to panic, and we were booting the ball up field.
“Usually I can get to some of those passes, but they were really good at taking that away. I thought we should have played more with our feet, but we just couldn’t do that.”
“Nobody in the GCL is going to let Brayden Eldridge run right through them,” Badin coach Eric Hickey said. “So other guys are going to have to step up and do their roles. We did that. We had other guys step up and have great chances tonight. They just didn’t put them home. That happens. Give us those chances the next two weeks, we will put them home, and we will be fine.”
The state’s 15th-ranked Rockets extended their winning streak to four games while moving to 6-3-1 overall and 2-0 in the GCL Coed.
The Rams, who moved out to their best start since the 2004 stint, had a 17-game regular-season unbeaten streak halted and fall to 9-1-1, 1-1 GCL Coed.
“In my mind, those are two state-ranked teams going at it — basically a tournament game right here,” Hickey said. “It’s a game we needed. You only get five cracks, and now we’re 1-1 in the league. Our next two games are brutal.”
Badin has three consecutive road games against Chaminade Julienne next Tuesday, followed by Taylor on Sept. 28 and Carroll on Oct. 3.
Hickey said the margin of error in the GCL Coed is slim, and Tuesday’s match against McNick was a prime example.
“There are no easy games,” the ninth-year Badin coach said. “Nobody goes down without a fight. I thought we fought. I thought they won the first half. I thought they outmuscled us. We preached the physical style. But they were more physical than we anticipated them to be.”
“That was the most physical team we’ve played all season,” Eldridge added. “There were a lot of 50-50 balls that they kept knocking us off of. We needed to win those. In prior years, that’s been a problem, and we really need to get on top of that right now.”
Badin had its chances to put a couple shots into the back of the net, but the post got in the way of three attempts.
“They’re rough and rugged, and it’s worked for them,” Hickey said of McNicholas. “They’ve gotten us, Turpin and Carroll their last three games, and it’s been a recipe that works. When you give away an offsides goal, which that happens. It shouldn’t — but it does. Then you hit three posts. Now, instead of winning 3-1, you go home.
“I can’t even fault our backline,” Hickey added. “I thought he was clearly offside. It wasn’t even close. Then he goes one in on the goalie, and he scores. That was the difference in the game. You put yourself in that position when you don’t score. If you take that away, it’s 0-0. But we needed to win the game.”
Badin goalkeeper Cole Parr had five saves, while McNicholas goalkeeper Carson Zurmehly logged his third shutout of the season.