After wrapping up the Region 2A North title last week, the Oakley School boys' soccer team took on Waterford in Oakley on Friday afternoon in preparation for the playoffs, which begin this week.
But the Explorers' offense, which has scored eight goals on four different occasions this season, couldn't find the back of the net against Waterford, falling 2-0.
Waterford's tough defense frustrated the Oakley offense all afternoon, forcing quick shots and intercepting passes. And when an Explorer forward did find some space, goalkeeper Ross Merrell was there to protect the Waterford net and stop the threat.
Oakley coach Alex Prugh said depth was an issue in the loss.
"We were down probably about four starters," he said. "So a lot of guys had to step up."
For the most part, Prugh said he was happy with the way the Explorers settled down after a rough start.
"I think the other team surprised us early on in the game," he said. "But I think our guys recovered from that and had a good portion where they really controlled the ball."
Now, Prugh said, his team will have to focus on resting and recovering before the playoffs start.
"Some of the guys had some injuries today, so I hope they heal up from those," he said.
Assuming the Explorers are at full strength in time, Prugh sees no reason why his team won't benefit from the tough loss to Waterford.
"I think it's a great warm-up for us," he said.
And, he added, motivation shouldn't be a big concern this week.
"Our guys don't like to lose," he said.
Oakley (9-3 overall, 9-1 in 2A North) will host a playoff game against Beaver (3-8-2 overall, 3-5-1 in 2A West), the fourth-place team in the 2A West region, on Friday afternoon.