Looking back, Rick Daugherty couldn't have asked more from his ballclub than what we got.
The Harrisburg High School girls' soccer coach took his team into uncharted waters Tuesday night as the Bulldogs made their first ever appearance in sectional soccer play.
The end result wasn't exactly what Daugherty had hoped for, but the overall result was something that he couldn't complain about.
Playing an Alton-Marquette team that was a state champion in Class 2A back in 2011 and turned in a second place finish in 2009, peppered Harrisburg and goal keeper Alysia McGuire with shots all night long.
McGuire, a freshman, raised eyebrows with her performance, making 23 saves on the night and Harrisburg trailed just 1-0 at halftime.
A second half goal at the 43:30 mark by Katie Sanfilppo took the proverbial wind out of Harrisburg's sails as Daugherty began subbing.
"It was hot, we were playing on the field turf and I could just tell a lot of my girls were gassed," Daugherty said Wednesday.
"We ran with them and there's no doubt that it took a lot out of us, but we competed with them and for a while there it was anyone's game."
Alton-Marquette (16-4-1) managed two more goals on the night, out shooting Harrisburg 29-3.
Harrisburg's Lillee Robinson and Jordan Stewart accounted for the Bulldogs' only goal attempts, all of which came in the second half.
"They were a good team," Daugherty said of the Explorers. Although, at that juncture, any team you play is going to be good. For us playing in that kind of environment for the first time, I thought our team played really well."
Harrisburg (13-9-1) won their first regional title in 13 years this past weekend when they knocked off Massac County 3-0 at Olney.
Michael Dann can be reached at mdann@dailyregister.