(Photos by Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
District championships are nice, but the Science Hill soccer team has bigger goals on its horizon.
The undefeated Hilltoppers captured the District 1-AAA crown Thursday night with a 5-0 victory over Tennessee High at Kermit Tipton Stadium, propelling them into next week’s regional tournament with plenty of momentum.
“We’re very proud of that title, but it’s just a benchmark, so we have to head on to the next one,” Science Hill coach Brandon Kind said after winning his first district championship in four years as the Hilltoppers’ head coach.
Lucas Altman, Will Little, Jared Lady, John Huffman and Cole Greer scored goals for the Hilltoppers, who improved to 17-0-1 and will play host to the District 2-AAA runner-up in the Region 1-AAA semifinals on Tuesday night.
“It’s a deep team ... just tough,” Tennessee High coach Evandro Valente said. “They’re undefeated for a reason.”
Science Hill dominated from the start and finally broke through with 17:50 left in the first half with a spectacular goal. Altman, the tournament’s MVP, took a Tennessee High clearance about waist-high and volleyed the ball into the upper right corner of the net.
It was the Hilltoppers’ only goal of a half they completely dominated. Science Hill outshot the Vikings 11-0 over the opening 40 minutes and finished with a 20-1 advantage in shots.
Tennessee High goalie Spencer Pruner kept his team in the game early with six first-half saves, including two big stops on scoring chances from Greer.
Little scored the second goal 13 minutes into the second half when he took a pass from Jhordan Rogers and scored from close range.
Lady’s goal came with 15:55 left. A pass from John Huffman put Lady free and he took advantage from the left side. Two minutes later Huffman got a goal of his own, a point-blank blast off a pass from Javier Alberto that made it 4-0.
Greer scored with six minutes left after he had been robbed three times by Pruner.
“We really connected on all levels tonight,” Kind said. “This group has learned to be patient and pick their times. They kind of got settled in at halftime and came out and really executed well.”
The Vikings fell to 12-5-1 and will travel to the District 2-AAA champion for the regional semifinals.
Two Science Hill players signed scholarship papers before the game. Greer is headed to Belmont Abbey in North Carolina while Noah Schaflin is going to Lincoln Memorial University in Harogate.