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Tennessee ‘Teams of the Decade’
CAK soccer makes it 6 in 7 years

MURFREESBORO — In terms of state championship tradition, the shoe was on other foot — when compared to the gridiron — during the TSSAA Class A-AA boys soccer state title game.

Christian Academy of Knoxville was looking for its sixth Class A-AA state title in seven years against an Alcoa team making its first-ever state tourney appearance.

As first reported at Farragut First Edition, May 23, tradition held to form on this Saturday afternoon at Richard Siegel Soccer Complex. The Warriors (19-2-3) overcame an early 1-0 deficit and defeated the Tornadoes 4-2 Saturday.

“You know what, I’m actually more proud of the boys than I am the dynasty,” CAK head coach Tom Gerlach said of his team’s seven-year run of huge success. “Because I have 18 quality men that, with or without six [state titles], I would rather be with than anyone else.”

Alcoa (18-6-1), District 3-A-AA champ that eliminated defending state champion Knoxville Catholic in the region semifinals, also lost to CAK 1-0 in the region title game.

But it was the Tornadoes who tallied first on a 20-yard shot at 31:25 mark. “They went up one on us; our guys didn’t quit … didn’t panic,” Gerlach said. “We just kept the pace. I’m really proud.”

The Warriors responded to tie less than six minutes later. Senior Jake Ragland maneuvered through the AHS defense and successfully blasted an open shot in front of the net from 15 yards out at the 25:50 mark.

About the ’09 title, “Ragland said, “probably for the whole team it’s almost even more exciting” than the 2006 or ’07 titles “just because this is our senior year.”

The Warriors’ go-ahead goal began as a header off David Platillero’s corner kick. Senior Chris Pifer punched home the rebounded header from Ragland from about five yards out with 21:08 left in the half.

Other than its two goals, Alcoa’s attack rarely mounted a serious challenge to the Warriors’ defense.

“Hats off to Chris Pifer, who again has filled in for us at sweeper,” Gerlach said of the normally playing midfielder, replacing injured sweeper Doug Liedle. “Our defense is just so solid, we’ve given up two goals in the whole state tournament. That’s fantastic.”

Pifer said about his adjustment, “It happened last year when [Liedle] got hurt ... so I was used to it. … I knew what I had to do. I needed to play my best to play to the glory of God and play for my teammates.”

Less than 11 minutes into the second half, the Tornadoes cashed in on another rare chance on a direct kick from 25 yards out, tying the game 2-2 with 29:34 to play.

Once again, however, the Warriors responded fairly quickly. Another Platillero corner was converted when Chesney took his own rebounded shot and tapped hope the go-ahead from five yards in front with 25:59 to play. CAK grabbed insurance when Stevie Thompson’s goal from five yards out made it 4-2 with 13:27 left.

Seniors Ragland, Pifer, Chesney, Liedle Zack Propes, Luke Miller, Ryan Brooksbank and Reece Henson played in, or dressed for, their final game as Warriors.

On avenging the 2008 state title game loss, Chesney said, “the different colored [runner-up] sign on the fence does look a little out-of-place … but we’re just overjoyed.”

“Go out on top with the legacy behind us.”


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