By KEVIN WEAKS
Obion County Central is bringing history home.
The Rebel soccer program added another chapter to its historic 2013 season on Tuesday night with a 3-2 win over Crockett County in the Region 7A-AA Tournament championship game at Milan.
“They wanted the championship as much as anything,” OC head coach Daniel Johnston said. “It was my pregame and halftime speech to them: 80 minutes, 40 minutes, and you’ll be champions. They proved it today.”
With that win, OC will be back at home one last time on Saturday when it hosts its first-ever sectional game. The Rebs will face the loser of the 8A-AA title game between Trinity Christian Academy and Memphis Kingsbury, which is to be played on Thursday.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Johnston said. “We had a great crowd tonight, and we hope to multiply that a few times since we’ll be staying at home on Saturday. Either one of those teams will be tough, but Crockett County is a tough team, too. When we want to, we can play very well.”
Guiding the Central back to Rebel Field was Eric Torres. The Bethel University signee and region regular season Offensive Player of the Year, Torres scored all three Central goals.
He gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead in the first half when he faced off against the Cavalier goalkeeper and induced his opponent to go the wrong way on a straight-on shot.
Torres then scored on a pair of assists from Mario Ramirez for goals within five minutes of each other early in the second half for a 3-0 lead.
“He’s been the center of the team and makes it work,” Johnston said. “He’s the captain in the truest sense of the word, on and off the field.”
For his efforts, Torres was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
In the title game, the entire Rebel defense could have earned MVP honors.
Frustrating the Cavaliers for the first 70 minutes of the match, pitching a shutout along the way, Central never let Crockett County sustain an attack or get a clear look at the net. In addition, Alberto Acevedo recorded 11 keeper saves.
“That was mainly because some of my offensive guys dropped back on defense to help secure the lead, which a lot of times will bite you,” Johnston said. “Our defense stood up better than it has all year. A magnificent job.”
The Cavs were frustrated by Central throughout the first half. A straight-on shot sailed over the goal in the first 10 minutes of play, while Acevedo made a nice save to stop Eder Vargas’ header from close range at the left end of the goal.
Meanwhile, OC was stymied early as well, a great two-shot opportunity eight minutes in lost when CC’s keeper stopped both shots.
The Rebels broke through at 27:52 of the first half when Torres took a pass from Alex Terrell and went straight at the keeper for a 1-0 lead.
Torres gave his team a 2-0 lead at 30:27 of the second half when he followed up a shot by Ramirez, and he scored again less than five minutes later by taking a pass from Ramirez and went straight in at 25:32.
Shut out for 70 minutes, Crockett finally scored twice in the game’s final 10 minutes. Christian Hamilton had both goals, the first coming with 9:20 to play on what was the Cavs’ first clear shot of the night and the second at 4:02 on a penalty kick.
Tuesday’s win avenged OC’s only loss during the season and upped the Rebs’ overall record to 15-1.
Published in The Messenger 5.15.13