MURFREESBORO – Montgomery Bell Academy was ready for Thursday’s Division II-AA state soccer final.
Well, almost ready.
Andrew Conwell left his jersey in the locker room before Thursday’s matchup with defending state champion Christian Brothers High School, but still managed to score the game-deciding goal to give MBA a 3-0 win over CBHS and its first state title since the inception of the TSSAA.
“I must have been too focused on the game,” Conwell said. “Everyone was leaving, I was the last one in the locker room and I left my jersey there.”
After switching his jersey number from 10 to 20, Conwell felt no different.
“It’s just a number” the senior said. “I’m still the same player and we’re still the same team.”
Following a 3-2 overtime win against previously undefeated McCallie to get to the state final, MBA (13-1-2) kept the same tradition it had all season long: winning.
Less than 10 minutes after a scoreless first half, Conwell put the Big Red on the board with a free kick off a set piece from 25 yards out.
“It’s just one of those things as a soccer player where you just hit the ball so clean it’s like it wasn’t even there,” Conwell said. “I just had a feeling it was going in as soon as it left my foot. When he dove late and it slipped underneath his glove I think I ran faster than I did the whole entire game.”
Christian Brothers had its fair share of chances, but sophomore Ellis Moore netted a goal in the 75th minute and Davis Luster added one more for good measure two minutes later on a penalty kick to seal the deal for MBA (13-1-2).
For MBA coach Giles Cheevers, bringing home a state title to the Big Red was extra special.
“I’m so proud of these boys,” he said. “It’s been a magic season. This team has been phenomenal. Words cannot describe how I’m feeling right now.”
Conwell said the title is where it belongs.
“We’ve worked so hard,” he said. “We just went out there and played our hearts out.”
BGA falls in DII-A title match
MURFREESBORO – Battle Ground Academy came up just short on a second-half rally in the Division II-A soccer championship Thursday.
Down two goals early, the Wildcats pulled within one in the second half and saw a potential game-tying goal bounce off the crossbar late to lose to the Webb School of Knoxville 2-1, denying BGA a chance at a repeat.
“That second half was unbelievable,” Knoxville Webb coach Jared Ziegler said. “What a game.”
Connor Jacobs beat the BGA defense in the 14thminute to give Knoxville Webb (18-1) an early 1-0 lead before adding his second goal just nine minutes later.
“The first half was the best half we’ve played all season,” Ziegler said.
BGA came out of halftime looking like a different team, with increased aggressiveness on its offensive push.
“We changed some things in the second half because we weren’t getting any pressure on them,” BGA coach Rob Mitchell said. “We had to improve, and we did.”
BGA made a few threatening runs before finding a hole in the Knoxville Webb defense when senior midfielder Harm Abbott tipped in a loose ball off a free kick by Braxton Kinney in the 54thminute.
“We said at halftime that if we let them back in and give them one they’re going to have all the energy and fight in the world,” Ziegler said. “And that’s exactly what they did.”
After pulling within one, BGA took control as Knoxville Webb dialed up its defense.
The Wildcats had some chances late but saw their best attempt sail just wide on a ball that deflected up and off the crossbar with just six minutes left.
– Sam Brown, The Tennessean