HUNTSVILLE | For Scott High, Thursday's game against rival Kingston was déjà vu Tuesday's game against Northview Academy.
For the second consecutive match, the Highlanders outplayed their opponent, but came up on the short end of a 2-1 score, thanks to missed opportunities on the offensive end.
But while Tuesday's game — a non-district match in Sevier County — didn't matter much in the grand scheme of things, Thursday's loss to Kingston was painful. It eliminated the Highlanders' hopes of winning a regular season district title and, more importantly, cost them an opportunity to host a district tournament semifinal game next month.
With the loss, the Highlanders will likely be headed back to Clinton for the district semifinals, the place where they lost in overtime on Friday.
Scott has now lost four consecutive games since a district win over Anderson County, but the last three have been tantalizingly close — and only two goals separate the Highlanders from being third place in District 5-AA and being unbeaten in league play.
Tuesday's and Thursday's games did have at least one key difference: In Tuesday's game, the Highlanders' inability to finish on the offensive end was the difference in the game. In Thursday's game against Kingston, two key defensive breakdowns in the second half were the deciding factor.
The two teams played to a scoreless tie in a first half that saw the Highlanders completely dominate possession and shots on goal, but struggle to find the back of the net. One statistic stood out in the first half that told the story: Corner kicks. The Highlanders had five of them, Kingston had none.
The second half started with Kingston winning balls in the middle of the field more easily, and two of those led to scores when the Yellow Jackets were able to create one-on-one situations in the back half. Two goals in the span of five minutes put Kingston in control.
The Highlanders settled down after that, and out-played Kingston the rest of the way, much as they had in the first half. Scott scored a goal with 21 minutes remaining when Skye Babb scored off an assist by Toby Garrett.
The game-tying goal was not to be, however.
Questionable calls by the lead official became an increasingly sore point for Scott High's sideline and its fans as the game progressed. The foul calls disparately favored Kingston. With Highlander coach Eric Henry questioning why his team was not getting any calls as the whistles against his team mounted, the lopsided foul count only became more lopsided in the game's waning minutes.
One call at full time summed up the nature of the calls. With no time left on the clock, the official inexplicably chose to issue a yellow card for a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge that appeared to be a clean play as the final horn sounded.