Thursday was a disappointing evening for Columbus High girls soccer. The Discoverers lost a third straight postseason match to crosstown rival Scotus Central Catholic and a fourth straight game to the Shamrocks overall.
Yet, despite coming up short in the sub-district final, Columbus was sure it had done enough during the regular season to earn a wild card berth to Saturday's sub-state round.
Those hopes were dashed Friday morning when the Discoverers found out they had dropped from No. 12 in the power point standings all the way down to 17th.
Eight sub-district winners plus the next eight highest according to those standings were seeded for games Saturday to determine the 2019 state tournament field. After playing in Omaha each of the last two years, Columbus won't even have a chance at it this time around.
The loss to Scotus coupled with a loss by Bellevue West in its own sub-district final dropped Columbus five spots back and left the Discoverers wondering what if?
They played in 10 one-goal games this season, went 5-5 in those matches, went to overtime six times and all the way to a shootout three times. They were 2-1 in overtime and 1-2 in shootouts.
"Not a chance," coach Luis Pulido said Friday when asked if he thought missing sub-state altogether was a possibility. "It's like a breakup where they don't tell you what you did wrong. It's kind of what it feels like."
Losing to Scotus was going to cost Columbus points regardless. With a power point average of exactly 42 before Thursday's game, a loss and the 39 points that came with it was going to drop the Discoverers some.
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But then a loss to Bellevue West weeks earlier, a loss that had been worth 41 points, fell to 38 points when Bellevue West fell to 12-5 after a loss in its own sub-district final.
At 13-6, the Thunderbirds went from a winning percentage of at or better than 75 percent to below. That cost Colmbus three points. Those three points would have advanced the Discoverers to Saturday. So too would have any extra win in one of many close games along the way.
"The last conversation we had was, 'Hey, let's get focused for Saturday,' and now we don't even have a season," Pulido said. "The year was a testament to the girls mental capacity. We're playing harder teams, and that can end up costing you, but you look at a few of the teams above you and you feel like they wouldn't have won more than a game or two."
"It's kind of like a nightmare in a way. You wake up and think you're going to play North Platte or you're going to play Mercy, they update the standings and you're not even on there."
It was Pulido's last chance after four years leading the Discoverers. He's moving on next year to be a graduate assistant at Dakota Wesleyan.
"I've had our senior girls all four years. They got to be a part of my learning as much as I saw them grow," he said. "Some of those girls, who they are now compared to who they were as freshmen...I'm just amazed."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org