CLINTON - Playing two soccer games in two days is never easy, especially when your second opponent is ranked.
That showed in the 6-0 shutout loss the Clinton girls soccer team suffered at home on Tuesday night to the No. 13 team in Class 3A, Muscatine.
"We just wanted to make sure we were competing," head coach Nick Hauenstein said. "I thought it came in bunches. When you're playing a team that's ranked, or just a quality team, you can't really have those lulls in judgement and effort."
After fighting for the first 20 minutes to keep the Muskies from making any major advances, the ranked soccer players broke the ice with an unfortunate roll in. After that, things came tumbling down around the River Queens.
With 12:41 remaining in the first half, Muscatine put one in the top right shelf for the 2-0 lead. More and more chances only made it inevitable, and the third goal game just two minutes later.
The Queens were constantly finding themselves behind the white jerseys, missing touches and chasing players. Part of the energy was a carry over from the night before, when the River Queens went into two overtimes against Maquoketa on Monday night, a total of 100 minutes of soccer.
"Tired legs played a role in that," Hauenstein said.
That had the Queens looking defeated on the field, especially in the back line. With five minutes left in the half, Muscatine netted another and took the 4-0 lead into the half.
"It's hard in soccer because there aren't timeouts to take a break and give that pep talk while the game is going," Hauenstein said. "We're just coaching them beforehand that the scoreline is always 0-0, and regardless of what's going on your effort and ability to compete doesn't take any skill."
It didn't take more than a couple minutes out of halftime to net their fifth goal. That's when the Clinton defense started stepping up. The River Queens were getting better position on balls, getting more touches, and even made a couple of runs towards the net.
Another ball found the back of the net for the Muskies later in the half, but the effort and energy looked infinitely better for the Queens in the last 25 minutes.
"Coaches and I challenged them at halftime to come out with a better mindset and play a better second half," Hauenstein said. "I'm pleased with the effort we did put in in the second half and I think it reflected in the scoreline."
It doesn't get much easier for the River Queens. They fall to 6-5 and stay at home to take on No. 9 Pleasant Valley on Thursday evening. Then, they take on No. 8 Bettendorf on Monday night, with just two games after that before postseason play begins.
"We've been able to compete with some ranked teams throughout the year," Hauenstein said. "I think it's coming down to the right mentality and mindset coming in, that if we stick to our game plan and just compete, make sure we're giving 100 percent effort the whole game, we can compete with high caliber games.