After spending years in the shadow of perennial powerhouse Greeneville, it was finally Chuckey-Doak’s time to shine. The Greene Devils now compete in Class AA, with the Black Knights dominating Class A soccer.
On Thursday, in the District 1-A tournament final at Chuckey-Doak, the Black Knights cruised to a 5-1 win over visiting University High.
Next up, Chuckey-Doak (17-0-0), the No. 1-ranked Class A team in the state, will host District 2 runner-up Gatlinburg-Pittman in the Region 1 semifinals. The Bucs (10-3-0) will travel to take on District 1 champ Alcoa. The Tornadoes beat the Highlanders 2-0 in the District 2 championship match.
“For eight years we’d finished second to Greeneville,” said Chuckey-Doak coach Anna Ricker. “Right now, it feels really good to be the district champs.”
Their hardly seemed any doubt about the outcome. From the start, the Black Knights imposed their will on the Bucs.
Just six minutes into the match, Levin Cammann crossed a ball to Brendan Shipley, who one-timed it into the back of the University High net.
Eight minutes later, Cammann blasted a shot off the crossbar that landed at the feet of Cristian Vazquez, who deftly placed the ball in the upper-left corner of the goal for a quick 2-0 advantage.
Shipley notched his second goal of the contest in the 19th minute and Chuckey-Doak was able to maintain that lead for the remainder of the half.
University High got some solace two minutes into the second half when Malachi Heath took a pass from Walker Page and fired a shot under the diving Black Knights goalkeeper. That narrowed the deficit to 3-1, but it was as close as the Bucs could get.
Chuckey-Doak’s Julius Zaher weaved through the UH defense and upped the lead to 4-1 on a brilliant finish. He added another goal in the 59th minute for the final margin of victory.
“We knew going in it would be a tough game and we were ready for that,” said Zaher. “We knew we were the better team and I think today we showed everyone here that we were.”
The Black Knights’ stingy defense was led by sweeper Dylan Lee, who, along with his backline teammates, held the Bucs to just three shots on goal.
“All I could think of after the final whistle was how crazy it is to finally be the champions,” Lee said. “It almost brings tears to my eyes.”
University High’s three losses this season have come at the hands of the Black Knights.
“All the credit goes to them,” said UH coach Dan Almond. “They played great. I look forward to having another shot at them in the regionals.”