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Let’s get physical
Defending state soccer champs Farragut, CAK sharpen up for playoffs; Ads anticipate rematch with BHS in 4-AAA finals Friday


As 2003’s National High School Soccer Coach of the Year, as voted by the StudentSports publication, Wallie Culbreth is keen to recognize how intensity levels can fluctuate.

But his No. 2 state-ranked Farragut Admirals, the defending Class AAA state champions, were especially intense during the Ads’ final regular season game last Thursday.

That’s probably because neighborhood rival Christian Academy of Knoxville, the defending Class A/AA state champs, were equally motivated to reel in a whopper in the “open seas” of Farragut Stadium.

The result was an especially physical game that was decided — not surprisingly — by an Aaron Doyle goal off a Jared Britcher assist. Throw in excellent and intense defense and the result was a 1-0 Admiral victory.

“It was two state champions, they really wanted it and so did we,” Culbreth said. “It was a real tight, physical game. This was a terrifically physical game ... both should be congratulated for the heart that was displayed on the field.”

“I thought CAK was good, they’ve got a great coach,” Culbreth added about CAK skipper Tom Gerlach. “And they’re full of heart, CAK. They’re definitely one of my top two favorites to the (Class A/AA) state. I think they’ve got a great chance to repeat.”

Meanwhile, an 11-0 rout of Heritage in the opening round of the District 4-AAA Tournament Monday at FHS left the Admirals with a 16-2 overall record heading into the semi-final game in Farragut Stadium against fourth-seed Maryville (played after press deadline).

A win Wednesday would likely set up a showdown with archrival Bearden in the 4-AAA tourney championship game Friday beginning at 7 p.m. at FHS. The SoccerDawgs had to beat West Wednesday at BHS.


STAR ADJUSTMENTS, FINISHING

An All-American candidate, senior superstar midfielder Doyle will play out the remainder of the 2004 season with a fractured nose. As a result, “On everything I’m keeping him outside the box, because he really can’t take another blow to the face,” Culbreth said. “It definitely hurts the team. Aaron and Jared are my two best headers.

“Plus, every play they learned we had to re-learn because Aaron was always in the middle of everything.”

However, Doyle scored the game’s only goal with 27:20 left in the first half after he received a perfectly-placed pass from Britcher before taking the ball and beating the charging goalkeeper for a wide-open 8-yard shot.

Although once again badly out-shooting an opponent, “we’ve been killing teams on shots, but we’re just not putting it in the net,” Culbreth said. “As a field team they’re playing well, we’ve just got to learn to finish a little better.”

STEADY DEFENSE

“We sort of shifted on defense, we’ve made a lot of formation changes this year,” Culbreth said. “Our defense has stepped up. Bryan Hill is Superman on the field. He’s my stopper. If you beat him, then he’s got good support players. My defense is pretty much surrounded by what Bryan does.”

Culbreth also praised Kirk Ruoff, who has caught the coaches’ eye for his standout play in recent games. “Danny Hinman did alright, too, he played a new position he’s never played and he stepped up and did a good job tonight.

The bottom line? “This has been one heck of an adjustment year,” Culbreth said. “If these boys win the state tournament, they would have really earned it.”

 

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