UNION SPRINGS — Each of the three seniors got one last touch.
Olivia Chuttey, Caitlin O'Brien and Zada Seitz were in the starting lineup for the Union Springs/Port Byron girls soccer team's Senior Day game Monday. The three upperclassmen — each dealing with ACL injuries — made a quick pass before a timeout was called to put in substitutes.
It was the beginning of an emotional day for coach Jim Hodges and the Wolves, who fell to the Whitney Point Eagles 4-3 in game shortened by darkness at Union Springs High School.
"It's been a difficult season for us. A lot of woulda, coulda, shouldas," Hodges said. "That's the way the game went for us today. I'm proud of all the seniors. I've watched those young ladies grow up with my daughter Joan. ... I just wish the outcome of today was different for them, because I know how much time, effort and energy they've put into our program over the years.
"To see those disappointed faces afterward is tough."
Five different players recorded a point for Union Springs/Port Byron. Abby Mucia netted a pair of goals, Renee Park scored once, and Joan Hodges, Kenedie Botindari and Sabrina Westmiller each had one assist. Morgan Lupo made six saves.
Chuttey injured her knee playing basketball over the summer, while Seitz and O'Brien each sustained torn ACLs during games in September. Each had a grin on their face as they each made one last pass in a Wolves uniform.
"A lot of smiles, a few hugs and a lot of excitement, which was great to see because I hadn't seen that on their faces the last couple weeks," Hodges said. "It was terrific to see them smile and let them know that what they've contributed to our program is special."
Once play resumed, Union Springs/Port Byron got off to a fast start. Mucia got the Wolves on the board 4:49 into the game and Park added to the lead less than seven minutes later.
"I think the emotion of Senior Day helped us at the beginning," Hodges said. "I thought we did a great job at the beginning of getting the ball into the back of the net. It's something we've been working on in practice and we've talked about for a good part of our season — just finding a way to finish."
Katie Arseneau cut the Eagles' deficit to one with 26:33 left in the first half and added the equalizer before halftime. The Wolves honored their 10 seniors — including coach Jim Hodge's daughter, Joan Hodges — during the break.
Whitney Point took the lead 2:25 after halftime, but Union Springs/Port Byron's Mucia tallied her second goal of the night to tie the score a little more than a minute later. The Eagles regained the lead with 27:54 remaining, and play was called with 10:59 remaining due to darkness.
"We knew they'd make a run back at us," Jim Hodges said. "No. 40 (Arseneau) is a terrific player for them. It's tough to get that emotion back once they deflated us there. I give our kids a lot of credit. We were down 3-2 and came back. We let that fourth one slide in there, and unfortunately that's the way it goes some nights."
It appears Union Springs/Port Byron will have yet another player sidelined with a leg injury.
Play was halted for several minutes after the Wolves' Botindari was injured during last Union Springs/Port Byron goal. The junior needed help off the field, and was eventually taken away by ambulance.
"It's unfortunate that these kinds of injuries happen, but I love the way our kids were there for her all the way up until she had to leave," Jim Hodges said. "We're a pretty close knit group to begin with, so I'm sure the kids will keep in touch with her and keep her spirits up for whatever she has to go through."
Union Springs/Port Byron plays Dryden Tuesday before wrapping up the regular season in Moravia Thursday.