No bells rang, but the White House boys soccer team treated Wednesday’s Class A/AA semifinal with Christian Academy of Knoxville like a boxing match.
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, there were knocked out of the tournamentsuffering a 3-2 loss to the defending state champion at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex.
“Coach (Mike) Clark and I made sure we were giving the Rocky attitude,” said White House coach Mark Lamberth, whose program suffered a 5-2 loss to CAK in the semifinals last season. “We called this a 12-round match.”
Lamberth shouted out a new round every six and a half minutes.
The role play seemed to work as the contest was tied until Warrior junior Josh Morgan scored the go-ahead goal with less than 13 minutes remaining. Morgan’s diagonal shot glanced off of the hands of a diving Matthew Howard — the Blue Devils’ junior goalkeeper — and into the net.
Then, a handball in the box gave CAK a penalty kick with 5:07 remaining, and Warrior junior Wade Crutchfield placed it into the lower right side of the goal for a 3-1 lead.
Blue Devil junior defender Tanner Crain played a free kick from 35 yards away into the box, and it was headed by White House senior midfielder Austin Thomas. Warrior sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Alberts batted down the header, but Blue Devil senior Chase Dunlap punched the rebound into the net with 52.3 seconds remaining.
With 26 seconds left, Crain took a shot from 25 yards out that sailed narrowly over the crossbar, and the Warriors held on.
“They fought hard for the ball,” said CAK coach Kurt Backstrom, whose squad played for the final 27 minutes a man down after senior forward Ryan Creel was given a red card. “They had a good game plan. Mostly, it worked. The feel of the game was they had possession most of the time.
“Last year, they were good as well. They play the same style. They just play it better this year.”
Warrior freshman forward Jon Creel blasted a shot from 25 yards out into the upper, left corner of the net in the 28th minute.
Blue Devil senior midfielder Gage Black responded approximately eight minutes later, firing a left-footed shot from the top of the box inside the right post.
CAK (22-3) has won seven of the last 10 state titles.
White House (22-3-1) was in search of its first appearance in the state championship match. The Blue Devils have reached the state semifinals four times.