ATHENS, Tenn. — There were two goalkeeper plays that ultimately decided the District 5-AAA soccer championship game Thursday between Ooltewah and McMinn County.
McMinn keeper Conar Roberts was called for a foul inside the box going up to save a throw-in attempt, leading to a penalty kick. Ooltewah’s Callum Wishart made the shot and it was the difference in a 1-0 win for the Owls, wrapping up their first District 5-AAA championship.
Ooltewah (9-5-1) will host the loser between Cookeville and Coffee County in the District 6 final, while the Cherokees (8-3-4) will travel to face the champion.
The Owls’ victory Thursday was a far cry from the regular-season meeting, which the Cherokees won 4-1.
“They beat us to a pulp that game,” Ooltewah coach Rick Adolph said. “We’re a completely different team now. It’s taken some time to work together, but I think we’re getting pretty close.”
Equally important as Wishart’s PK was a play made by Owls keeper Hunter Rozzell in the final minutes. A kick bounded in the direction of the Ooltewah goal, with Rozzell and McMinn’s Cem Suebyeci both going up for the ball. Rozzell outjumped Suebyeci and made the game-clinching save.
The play was indicative of the game, as the Owls were one step faster and one inch higher than the Cherokees.
“They just wanted it more than we did,” McMinn coach David McDonald said. “They attacked more and kept us on our heels for most of the game. Our defense played well, but they had too much time.”
District 5-AAA Championship
OOLTEWAH 1, MCMINN COUNTY 0
Halftime score: 0-0. Goal: Callum Wishart. Shots on goal: Ooltewah, 6-3. Saves: Conar Roberts 5 (MC); Hunter Rozzell 3 (O). Records: Ooltewah 9-5-1; McMinn 8-3-4.
Second Team: Andrew Sherlin (Walker Valley); Ivan Bautista (Rhea); Elijah Thomas (Cleveland); Martin Zaragoza (Bradley); Felipe’ Munoz (Ooltewah); Trevin Hamilton (Soddy-Daisy); Conar Roberts (McMinn).
First Team: Brandon Justice (WV); Brandon Heath (RC); Sterling Hines (CHS); Cody Arrowood, Miles Christian (BC); Sean McClain, Callum Wishart (Ool); Pat Doub, Jordan Edwards, Drew Hale (SD); Junior Cifuentes, James Castillo, Zeke Varajon (MC).
Defensive Most Valuable Player: J.T. Foreman (MC). Best Midfielder: Ben Kimball (CHS). Offensive Most Valuable Player: Zach Myers (MC).