The last time the Rose Hill and Trinity Academy boys soccer teams played, the Rockets not only won 2-0, but won so thoroughly that Trinity did not even register a shot on target the entire game.
For Rose Hill, it was just another one of the 17 victories it racked up in becoming the top-ranked Class 4-1A team this season.
But for Trinity, the beating stuck with its players.
When the two teams meet again on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Rose Hill, this time with a berth in the Class 4-1A state semifinals at stake, Trinity is determined to produce a better, or at least competitive, game.
“I think all we would have to do is show up and we can probably do better than we did last time against them,” Trinity coach Mark Brooks said. “But Rose Hill, they were so good.… Hopefully we can show we’re a better team than we were back then.”
This has been a challenging season at Trinity in Brooks’ first season as head coach. The Knights were used to winning lots of games, scoring lots of goals, and expected to be playing in the quarterfinals every season.
But this season has been a struggle, as Trinity lost two of its first three games and couldn’t string together positive performances for long. In fact, this team has yet to win more than three games in a row during its 11-6-1 season.
“I think it’s fair to say we’ve had our share of ups and downs this season,” Brooks said. “We would be playing well for awhile and think we have things figured out, then we would get humbled. I think a lot of that has to do with only having one senior on the team.”
And that is where the starkest difference between Trinity and Rose Hill exists. Seven seniors play for Rose Hill, all of whom are desperate for another chance at a state title after losing in the state championship match last season.
This season has been a model of consistency for Rose Hill. The Rockets have outscored their opponents 86-8 this season and, outside of a 3-0 loss to Bishop Carroll on Oct. 18, have been downright dominant.
“I’ve been impressed by how consistent this team has been,” Rose Hill coach Jerry Treat said. “I think this team has been getting better as the season has gone along. We’re peaking at the right time.”
One surprise for Rose Hill this season has been the play of junior forward Parker Austin, who has scored 11 goals and forced his way into the starting lineup after beginning the season on the bench.
“We’ve kind of rotated our lineups a little bit this season, but he’s shown he has a good knack for scoring,” Treat said. “We’re a little bit deeper than we’ve been in the past, so that’s a good thing.”
The last time the two teams met in the postseason was in the 2010 state championship game, where Trinity defeated Rose Hill 1-0.
The two programs have been the class of the South Central region for years, and naturally a rivalry has been born between them. Tuesday’s game will only intensify that.
“I think we both look forward to playing each other,” Brooks said. “We’ve gotten the better of them up until this year, and then they’ve really taken it to us this year. So I’m sure they’re going to be looking forward to get their pound of flesh from us this time.”