The nationally ranked Hilltoppers finished unbeaten, whipping Greeneville 4-0 on Tuesday night at Burley Stadium.
Science Hill will carry a record of 15-0-1 into next week’s District 1-AAA tournament, which will be played at Tipton Stadium. The Hilltoppers have allowed just seven goals in 16 games, and have posted 10 shutouts.
Head coach Brandon Kind said Science Hill’s practice approach helps the team have success on game nights.
“We put emphasis on preparation, and making sure we’re training hard,” said Kind, who was a player on Science Hill’s last unbeaten regular season team back in 1996. “When you do that, the games take care of themselves.
“These kids love soccer. They don’t look at it as practice or work. They love the game.”
The Hilltoppers — who are ranked No. 29 in the nation in the Student Sports Fab 50 (but No. 3 in the state behind Franklin and Knox Farragut) — struck in the 10th minute as Miller Franklin got on the front end of a break, and knocked a shot toward the center of the net. He got a little help from a Greeneville defender, who was unable to steer the ball away from the net.
“I saw an opening, and I ran as fast as I could,” said Franklin. “And I just played the ball toward the goal.”
An early goal always helps a team’s mindset, but Franklin said the Hilltoppers were mentally solid anyway.
“I think we just treated it like any other game,” he said. “We really wanted to close out a good regular season, but we just took care of business and it seemed to work out.”
Science Hill took advantage of the tight dimensions with a throw-in-aided goal in the 24th minute. After the goalie failed to collect the high throw, Andrew Carter got a foot on the high bounce and directed it into the open net.
Seven minutes later, John Huffman got the ball on the wing and directed a high shot into the frame for a 3-0 Hilltoppers’ lead that they carried into halftime.
In the second half, Will Little got a sweet feed from Lucas Altman. Little foot-tranced the goalkeeper before ripping a sizzle biscuit into the net.
Altman finished with two assists, and Huffman had one.
Science Hill tormented Greeneville’s defense throughout the game with its instant attack. Even when Greeneville had possession, the Hilltoppers seemed to only be seconds away from turning the tide and putting the Greene Devils in an awkward defensive shape.
The Hilltoppers’ expertise in transition has been growing through the season.
“It’s about chemistry, quick transition, trusting teammates, and good fitness,” said Kind.
Science Hill has a bye into the district semifinals, and will play May 6. The championship is scheduled for May 8.
Follow Douglas Fritz on Twitter. Like him on Facebook.