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Hilltoppers fall victim to Karns upset

Douglas Fritz • May 18, 2019 at 7:00 PM

Science Hill shook up the state’s soccer hierarchy Thursday by stunning Knox Bearden.

On Saturday, the Hilltoppers were the ones on the wrong end of an upset.

Dominating possession throughout the contest, Science Hill couldn’t recover from an early goal by Knox Karns in a 1-0 loss during a Class AAA sectional at Tipton Stadium.

It was a season-ending loss for the Hilltoppers, who earned a home sectional game by knocking off Bearden for the Region 1-AAA title. Science Hill (13-7-2) was denied in its bid to reach the state tournament for the 10th time.

Hilltoppers’ head coach David Strickland declined to comment after the match.

The Beavers (10-3-3) will make their first-ever appearance in the final eight.

THE GOAL

A loose ball in the box is usually a harbinger of bad things for the defense.

Karns’ Trevor Grussing cleaned up for the game’s only score, just 12 minutes into the match.

“Maybe not the prettiest play, just a little scramble play in the box and it fell to our guy,” said Karns’ head coach Steven Gallaher. “Who knows why? But we had been practicing getting on the end of those, just finishing, and he finished.”

There was a hesitation before the referee awarded the goal, but the linesman’s confirmation ended the suspense.

SCIENCE HILL CHANCES

The Hilltoppers had numerous good looks, hard shots, and near misses throughout the game. But nothing struck the net.

Karns kept coming up with defensive plays in the middle of the field to keep Science Hill from finding a crease.

ALMOST

Karns appeared to be putting the game away in the 70th minute as standout forward Edson Castro beat the defense to the middle of the field. But his shot — one of the few chances he had in the game — sailed over the crossbar.

“He usually gets a lot more service,” said Gallaher. “It’s kind of hard. It would be like walking onto a golf course and taking one swing, and that swing being the swing you’re judged on.”

The missed opportunity kept Science Hill in the hunt.

“They gave us a chance, and when we didn’t bury it I thought it was going to come down to the wire,” said Gallaher.

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