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CAK state record 4th crown continues larger team mission

MURFREESBORO — Though adding a fourth consecutive Class A/AA state soccer title to his bulging resume and setting a new TSSAA record for consecutive state soccer championships, Christian Academy of Knoxville head coach Tom Gerlach didn’t lose perspective on what the real mission is for his CAK boys team.

“The outcome is of course amazing, astounding — but we, from day one, wanted to use this as a ministry to spread the word of Christ,” said Gerlach after edging West Knox County rival Knoxville Catholic 1-0 in the championship game Saturday, May 27, at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex.

“Honestly, to God be the glory, this is our approach from the entire get-go.

“The icing on the cake is setting state records, like we did last year tying Christian Brothers and then setting a state record this year with four,” Gerlach added about his 2006 team, which finished 18-2-4 while winning two of three post-season games versus distric trival KCHS. “It’s amazing. It’s easy to get lost in the moment.

“Just trying to soak it all in, I think it’ll hit me maybe a month from now. What these guys have accomplished is really incredible.”

About his senior class that was part of all four championships, “We call ’em the fantastic five,” Gerlach said of Sam Ferguson, Nathan Davis, Andrew Masters, Bennett Giles and Jeremy Park.

“Every year that comes by, I think it gets a little harder because your target gets bigger and bigger,” the coach added. “These guys stepped up. ... with the five guys that we had here, they were just amazing. And Drew Gorman in goal, and [Nathan] Worley, who is a senior, comes off the bench and just hustles so hard.

“These guys have the glue of Christ that keeps them together. And it’s just incredible. I’ve never had a group of guys closer than this.”

Masters, a two-year starting defender, said he takes favorably to his nickname, “Stallion.”

“It’s been incredible, playing with these bunch of guys,” Masters said. “It’s definitely been a gift of God to be with these guys, they’ve encouraged me and helped me be the person I am today. It’s definitely been a great experience.”

Ferguson is a three-year starting midfielder.

“It’s an awesome experience, it’s something that God’s given us the ability to do, and He’s blessed us with success throughout the year,” Ferguson said. “It’s just been a privilege to play on this team with these guys with the mindset and the brotherhood that we have. It’s been a pleasure, it’s definitely something that I’ve enjoyed doing, memories I’ll take with me the rest of my life.”

Park is a four-year starting defender. “I mean, it’s great,” he said. “I mean, the first year, it was just kinda exciting because we had never had a state championship in soccer before. And the next year, it’s like ‘wow, we did it twice, we might as well go for another one.’

“And then I think, coming into this season, I was more excited to win it again for the fourth time just to go out on top. And it’s just a great feeling to go out without losing.”

Speaking about his fellow seniors, “They’re a great bunch of guys,” Park said. “We’ve been playing even since, like, fourth-, fifth-grade at recess. And then throughout middle school and all of these four high school years. They’re all my best friends and we work so close together.”

Davis, a midfielder who has been part of all four state titles, converted the game’s only goal with seven minutes left in the first half by following a rebounded attempt on a free kick.

“The kid striking it [Park] has a pretty good leg, and I figured if he hit it well, the keeper (Joey Derosa) would have trouble holding onto it. And he bobbled it, and I was in the right place at the right time,” Davis said.

Catholic, which finished 21-4-1 and beat CAK to win the district tourney title, came painfully close to scoring on a number of tries in the game’s final 15 minutes, especially senior midfielder Doug Hall.

With just under 13 minutes left, Hall’s shot from five yards out hit the inside of the post, went across the plane of the goal without going in, then spun out of bounds beside the other post.

“I thought it was in, I don’t know how it didn’t go in,” KCHS head coach Peter Rosenblad said. “It’s just cruel. You spin one off the post, it spins all the way around and around the opposite post for a goal kick. They’ve got these fancy oval posts, I guess that’s the new thing. But I don’t like them very well right now. If its a square post it’s a one-to-one game and we’re in overtime right now. I wish technology wasn’t around.”

The Irish also missed an open shot just outside of the box with 1:52 remaining. About 50 seconds later, a KCHS shot hit the crossbar and a follow-up shot in close was saved by Gorman.

Park added, “Those couple off the post were a bit scary.”

Gerlach said his Warriors “didn’t have a whole lot of chances. We put away the one we had.”

Catholic outshot CAK 12-8.

Speaking about his four KCHS seniors — Hall and forwards Joel Adams, Ricardo Martinez and Joe Pierce — “They’ve been incredible,” Rosenblad said. “Four times to the state tournament and leading the team to the championship game, first time ever. It hurts for ’em right now, but they’ll realize what they did in time. It’s going to take some time for it to stop hurting. ...”


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