Moving to a new district this year, the Pacific Indians saw their season come to an end Tuesday with a 5-0 loss to Affton in the Class 2 District 3 semifinals.
Pacific ended its season at 12-9 overall.
“For the most part, I thought we played with a lot of heart,” said Pacific Head Coach Todd Dempsey. “We lost 2-1 in overtime to Affton earlier in the year and that was a pretty tight match throughout. Unfortunately, we had a few key guys out with some injuries and we weren’t quite the same team this time around.”
Pacific, proficient in scoring goals this season, had two-thirds of its trident hampered by injuries.
“Of our top 3 scorers, Todd D’Aquila was our only healthy player and we struggled to get much of anything going as a result,” Dempsey said. “Overall though, our effort was as good as it has been all year. We were just a little thin on depth once we lost a couple starters. I was proud of our kids for fighting tooth-and-nail the whole way.”
Affton scored twice in the first half, but Pacific had opportunities to cut into that lead.
“We nearly got a goal in the last few seconds before the half from a corner kick,” Dempsey said. “Had we been able to somehow knock it in, the second half could’ve been a little different. We didn’t kill ourselves with the mental mistakes we’ve made in past games. You just have to credit the Affton players for making good plays when it counted most.”
Affton put it out of reach with three additional markers in the second half.
Overall, Dempsey said there were many positives during the season.
“For the season, I think we did some good things this year. We had three kids finish in the top 25 in the St. Louis area in a couple of different categories,” Dempsey said. “Todd D’Aquila finished eighth in overall scoring with 20 goals and 23 assists (63 points). Tristan Moore finished No. 18 in goals scored with 24. And Jeremy Hardcastle finished No. 7 in assists with 18. As a team, we put together our first winning season in six years.”
Dempsey said the Indians would have liked to have done better in Four Rivers conference play. Pacific finished second in the league with a 4-2 mark, losing only to Union.
“Obviously, winning our conference would’ve been a nice feather in our cap too, but that didn’t work out for us.”
Pacific graduates four seniors who have been with the program throughout their high school careers.
“Our four-year seniors have helped our program come a long way,” Dempsey said. “Todd D’Aquila, Tyler McDonald, Mike Stinson, and Dominic Signorino were with us from the very beginning and they went from winning four games their freshman season, to 12 games this year. Each year we improved, and that’s all you can ask for. Honestly, they’re one of the favorite groups of players I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching. When you see a group of kids taking people’s best shots and they keep coming back for more each year, you gain a lot of respect for them and seeing them have some success was extremely satisfying.”
Three other seniors played less than four years for the Indians.
“Joon Kim came out his sophomore year and did an outstanding job of getting himself in shape,” Dempsey said. “He turned out to be one of our best conditioned and most improved players. Landon Moore and Charlie Brinker came out as seniors this year and provided us with some more leadership. They both were able to contribute by scoring as well. The group of seniors leaving us this year will be difficult to replace both as players and as people.”
With six starters returning next season (one junior, four sophomores and one freshman), Dempsey feels the future is bright for Pacific soccer.
“There’s a lot to build on,” Dempsey said. “Our returners are going to have to do some work this offseason. We’re a little undersized since we are so young. So the weight room will be a frequently visited place. We’ll be relatively young next year also. Of our returning players next season, we will have only four seniors. If we’re going to keep our trend of improvement going, we’ll need some of our younger players to step in right away and contribute. It will be exciting to watch these guys develop and I think there’s a good framework there for future success.”