Sometimes Science Hill only needs a razor-thin margin of error by the defense to find a direct line of assault on the net.
And once the Hilltoppers are in, sometimes it only means they are coming back again — soon.
Science Hill flattened Morristown East with four first-half goals, and then methodically preserved a 4-2 win in the Region 1-AAA soccer semifinals Tuesday night at Tipton Stadium.
The Hilltoppers (18-0-1) remained unbeaten and advanced to Thursday’s title game against Morristown West, which defeated Tennessee High by a score of 6-3. Both the ‘Toppers and Trojans (13-5-3) also earned berths in Saturday’s sectional round.
Science Hill struck quickly, getting a goal in the 11th minute after a corner kick. Javier Alberto kept his eye on a slight deflection, caught the ball with his left foot about two feet off the ground from 10 yards away and redirected it into the left side of the net.
“Just his vision is his biggest strength,” said Science Hill head coach Brandon Kind. “He has the confidence to take shots, and he knows his teammates are behind him no matter what. You are seeing him at his best.”
The Hilltoppers kept the pressure on the Hurricanes, coming close on several occasions until Jordan Rogers recovered a rolling cross on the left side and tapped it into the net.
“It takes a huge amount of effort on the weak side,” said Kind. “The position is so demanding for so little reward. You may have 100 sprints for maybe one ball.”
One minute later, John Huffman made a nice move and nicked the ball off the left post for a 3-0 Science Hill lead.
Capping off the Science Hill scoring, Lucas Altman scored off a corner kick with a nice header.
Overall, Alberto said the Hilltoppers are just getting better as a team.
“I think we’re possessing the ball more, and our chemistry is getting better,” he said. “We know how to play now.”
He said the unbeaten record adds to the mix.
“Definitely,” said Alberto. “We always have to have the mindset not to lose, just like it was the first game of the season.”
If there was a down note for the Hilltoppers, it was the finish. With some subs in the game, Morristown East was able to get a pair of goals in the final eight minutes.
But those moments can build character, said Kind.
“We’ve got to get experience because we’re going to need those players,” said Kind. “The bottom line is those guys are going to learn from their mistakes. I was going to leave them in no matter what because I felt they could get the job done.”
Science Hill has outscored its opponents 91-9 on the season, but fell short of its 13th shutout.
Now the Hilltoppers turn their attention to a West team they defeated 2-0 earlier this season. Alberto said it will be a challenge.
“West has a quality team,” he said. “They know how to play. We need to possess, do what we do, and defend.”