By KEVIN WEAKS
After 20 extra minutes, the clock struck zero too early on Obion County Central.
The Rebels gave up a goal at 9:20 of the second overtime period to drop a 1-0 decision to Trinity Christian Academy in the sectional round of the TSSAA Class A-AA soccer postseason Saturday night at Rebel Field.
The match’s lone goal came when Eli Parker, a freshman who scored his team’s game-winner in the Region 8 semifinals, found the left side of the net with a hard shot past OC’s Alberto Acevedo.
Junior Tyler Thomason picked up the assist.
It was the only ball to get past Acevedo all night. He finished with seven keeper saves, stopping three shots in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
The loss ended a stellar and history-making season for the Central program, which won its first-ever regional championship and also played in its first sectional match, with a 15-2 overall record.
TCA, meanwhile, overcame its first loss of the season two days earlier and will take a 12-1-2 record to Murfreesboro this week for the state tournament as part of the annual Spring Fling.
Central head coach Daniel Johnston looks at Saturday night’s loss as only to beginning for better things in the Rebel soccer program.
“This is awesome,” Johnston said of the large crowd in attendance and the atmosphere fitting the game’s high profile. “That’s the most people to see a soccer match in Obion County, probably, ever. I think that’s a good step for this program.”
And, the Rebel players almost sent their fans on a road trip next week.
Holding off TCA’s constant pressure on the goal in the first half with an equally relentless pursuit after the intermission, the Rebs were stopped just shy of scoring on several occasions.
“I think it was a tale of two halves,” Johnston said. “In the first half, I’d guess they had possession 85 to 90 percent of the time. We’d work the ball down to their end, and they’d knock it right back to us. In the second half, we came out with a little more urgency. The second half was more of what we’d been doing all year. We put a couple of passes together to get a shot, and then our defense played their butts off all night.”
Then, after a scoreless first OT and falling behind early in the second, Central continue to attack to goal but could never get the ball past keeper Kyle Akin and his defensive help.
“We got a little more pumped up in overtime,” Johnston said. “The goal did deflate us a little, but the last five minutes, we were all over them. We had opportunity after opportunity, but we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
TCA played a precision passing game on offense and challenged every ball with up-close one-on-one play defensively. As a result, OC only got off six shots on goal, none by senior and Bethel University signee Eric Torres, who was held in check all night.
Central picked up a pair of yellow cards, including one for slapping the ball toward the goal by hand in the second half on what proved to be the Rebels’ best scoring opportunity of the match.
With the clock running out in the second overtime, Torres tried to will his team back into a tie, once charging toward the goal from the right side and twice pushing headers toward the net.
The loss marked the final match for seniors Torres, Ian Miller, Erick Morales, Will Bright, Andrew Terrell, Jackson Smith and Alex Terrell.
“Our seniors did an excellent job,” Johnston said. “They did for four years and, hopefully, we can build on this each year. They have a taste of what it feels like to be this far in the tournament now, and I think we’ll be back.”
TCA will be joined in the state tournament bracket by its Region 8 rival Kingsbury, a 3-0 winner over Crockett County on Saturday.
Sports reporter Kevin Weaks can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 5.20.13