Maryville is suddenly a futbol school.
The Rebels, who have won nine state titles in football under George Quarles, secured their first state tournament berth in soccer with 1-0 victory against Science Hill on Saturday at Kermit Tipton Stadium.
Maryville (14-5-3) advances to next week’s state tournament in Murfreesboro. Science Hill, which had to overcome the transfers of Javier Alberto and Wilfred Williams and a season-ending injury to senior captain fullback Tanner Leach in the second game, finished the season at 17-5-2.
The Hilltoppers dictated a majority of the action, but it was clear that fact added up to nothing when Maryville’s Devin Finch cashed in what appeared to be a clean look amid congestion in the box after a long throw-in with some 16 minutes remaining.
“First time in school history we’re going to the state,” Finch said. “It feels really good being able to put that goal in to get our team there. A lot of years of soccer that’s been waiting for this day, and it’s finally here.”
Ryan Reilly’s throw-in from around 35 yards out and Austin Waddell’s ensuing header set the stage for Finch.
“We’d been working on that long throw all year, and we try to win that first ball,” Finch said. “And it was Austin Waddell that won that first one. And that’s all we needed. It was easy for me after that. … I poked it right by the keeper.”
Science Hill freshman Steven McKinney nearly answered less than a minute after Finch’s score. McKinney made a good move near the left edge of the box to create an opportunity, but a sliding deflection by Finch made an otherwise difficult task easy for keeper Ryan Jorgensen. McKinney, who, like Science Hill, has a bright future, was also just high on a couple of other opportunities, including one with eight minutes remaining. Another freshman, Lucas Altman also kept Jorgensen on his toes.
“We outshot them something like 15-4, and it just wasn’t our day,” Science Hill coach Brandon Kind said. “It didn’t fall our way, simple as that. It just wasn’t our night tonight.
“We should’ve put away our opportunities, and we didn’t. The play was there, everything was there. We just couldn’t put the ball in the net. Maryville’s a quality team … and they scrapped one in.”
Maryville coach Steve Feather credited Kind’s coaching, as he said Knox West and Dobyns-Bennett had described completely different attacks in their meetings with the Hilltoppers. But Feather knew one thing was a constant with Science Hill – quality goal-keeping from Daniel Adelman.
“We knew they had some tricky players up top, that they were creative in the offensive third,” Feather said. “And all we heard about with Science Hill was how great their keeper was. And we knew that it was gonna be hard to get a good look on him. We obviously got a good look … and we’ve obviously got a good keeper, too.”
Science Hill’s Nick Boegemann said Science Hill “exceeded expectations” in a season highlighted by defeating D-B 1-0 for the regional title (Boegemann scored the goal). Not that it was much solace shortly after watching Maryville celebrate what seemed like a mild upset victory.
“I felt like we controlled the tempo of the game,” Boegemann said. “We had them chasing a lot. But in soccer, you know, anything can happen. And they got and opportunity and they put it away. … It bounces around in the box, you know, and it was devastating, for sure.”
Kind said Boegemann, Adelman and fellow seniors Johnny Bracewell, Louis Fagleson, Oscar Arreguin and Riley Parr leave big shoes to fill – right down to their exit after a heart-breaking hard-fought end to their careers.
“It’s been a great year, maintaining that regional title when everybody told us we couldn’t,” Kind said. “Nonetheless, it hurts. We know what we’re capable of. We should’ve walked away today the winner … but we can lay our head down tonight knowing we left it all out there.
“Leaving the field with such agony, but such class – that’s gonna take you places the soccer ball can never take you. As bad as we want to win, I wanted them to walk out of their as men. And we did that.”