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FHS soccer out in state semifinals

MURFREESBORO — Not finishing on golden scoring opportunities — a problem Farragut boys soccer head coach Wallie Culbreth noted in mid-season — came back to bite the Admirals in its 2-1 Class AAA state tourney semifinal loss to Hendersonville Thursday, May 25, at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex.

“We just didn’t finish, it should have been five-to-nothing at halftime,” Culbreth said, as FHS failed to successfully follow its 2-0 victory against Riverdale the night before. “We had four or five wide open opportunities that we didn’t finish. And we fully controlled eighty-percent of that game. ... As it turned out, we made two mistakes and they capitalized.

“I told the boys, ‘that’s what makes the difference in state champions and non-state champions, you finish your opportunities,’” Culbreth added. “We just didn’t finish ours.”

Individually, “Jake Holt and Ben Backstrom played real well in the tournament, and Tyler Swift, too,” Culbreth said.

Holt, who scored Farragut’s first goal against Riverdale (final 19-3 record) on a header placed over the head of the charging goalkeeper, wasted no time against Hendersonville.

Holt’s goal came less than two minutes into the game.

Edging FHS in shots-on-goal 14-13, Hendersonville tied the game in the 48th-minute (Cameron Eades) and took the lead for good in the second half on a goal from Michael Bolt. The Commandos (final 18-3-3 record), lost to Bearden on overtime penalty-kicks 4-2 to finish second (see related story beginning on page 1.)

Finishing with a 16-6-5 record, “We had a great season,” said Culbreth, who against Riverdale added his 100th coaching victory. Those 100 wins include two state championships (2003 and 2004), a national title (2004) and four state tournament appearances.

Saying in pre-season this was his largest rebuilding job in terms of proven players returning, “The good thing about it is the kids learned, and they obviously showed they learned because we got to the semifinals,” Culbreth said. “Even though our schedule is what many termed the hardest in the state, it paid dividends because we got to the final four.”

Farragut seniors Ben Lawson, Tony Milazzo, Matthew Dakin, Pedi Hashemian and Ben Contessa were labeled by Culbreth as a “small group, but inspirational.”

Looking ahead to 2007, “those junior and sophomore classes are a very, very, very talented group,” Culbreth said. “I think we’ll just flat be unstoppable next year.”


Holt’s header goal came from about 12 yards out with 11:54 left in the first half.

“Tony Milazzo just kicked a really nice ball to me, and it got behind the defense and it just opened up,” said Holt.

Ben Backstrom scored the Admirals’ other goal from about 15 yards out with 32:11 left in the second half.

“Really, the younger guys stepped up again tonight,” Milazzo said.

Culbreth added, “In the second half we dominated probably ninety-five percent.”


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