Motivation comes from different angles, but it seems the most intense delivery hails from the hallways of a season-ending loss.
That bitter taste still lingering on The Hill was produced by a simple blip on the radar of focus in last year's Class AAA sectional soccer loss to Maryville.
“We dominated and outshot them 20-4, but we let down for one minute,” said Science Hill head coach Brandon Kind. “I saw it in the body language. That's all it took.”
The 1-0 loss denied Science Hill a third straight trip to the state tournament, something this year's team has sight-set itself on reacquiring.
“It leaves a bitter taste, and it's a big chip on our shoulders,” said Kind. “They've talked about it from the get-go, and remember it each day.”
With a 2-0 start, punctuated by shutout wins over Seymour and Morristown West, the 2014 track looks fast.
“The willingness to learn and get better every day is what hits me,” said Kind, whose team played Sullivan Central on Thursday night. “We're young, but last year we got a lot of great experience.
“They've really grown. They've kind of taken the man step. That's what experience does. It thickens the skin.”
Success usually starts with prevention in soccer, and the last line of defense is solid once again for the Hilltoppers. After waiting his turn behind eventual Division I goalkeepers Andrew Kenneson and Daniel Adelman, junior Grayson Garland has been charged with securing the 18-yard perimeter.
“He has been great since he was a freshman, but he was behind two of the best goalkeepers to come out of our school,” said Kind. “It's his turn to shine. He's a class act, big time.”
Goalkeepers can get in trouble in a hurry without a unified backfield. Seniors Noah Schaftlein and Max Vaughn, junior Alec Jacobs, and freshman Scott Lich are currently manning those spots.
Kind said the Hilltoppers will soon get a defensive boost when junior John Lucchesi returns from hernia surgery in the next couple of weeks.
“We've had guys stepping up and filling holes,” said Kind. “That's what I like about this group. Guys will play anywhere I ask.”
In the middle, the bread and butter of any soccer team, Kind said he will rely on juniors Miller Franklin, Javier Alberto and Jhordan Rogers. Sophomores Lucas Altman and Will Little also figure in the middle mix.
“The midfield is so demanding, you need a good rotation,” said Kind.
Kind's offensive approach allows a 4-3-3 set to morph in a 4-2-2 quickly. Therefore, Rogers, Altman and Alberto can be a nuisance to the opponent's defense.
In more of a forward role, junior John Huffman provides the kind of net attack every team needs.
“He has a pretty dynamic left foot,” said Kind. “And he's a speedster.”
As far as the competition goes, it appears to be a three-horse race in the Big Seven Conference. Science Hill is the favorite with Dobyns-Bennett and Tennessee High — who already battled to a 4-4 tie — in chase mode.
“It will always be a dogfight between us three,” said Kind. “That makes it fun.”
Science Hill has a really nice schedule this year. Included is a tough tournament at Knox Bearden on March 28-30.
Home dates include Dobyns-Bennett (April 4), Hardin Valley (April 7), Roanoke (Va.) Patrick Henry (April 11) and Knox West (April 19).
Science Hill plays host to David Crockett on Monday at 7 o'clock at Tipton Stadium.comments powered by Disqus