The Ooltewah soccer team didn't have to be great for 80 minutes Tuesday afternoon in its District 5-AAA match against East Hamilton. The Owls just needed to be opportunistic — and they were.
Three opportunities for the Owls led to three goals, a 3-2 victory and the No. 2 seed in the district tournament. Ian Wolfe had two goals for the Owls (10-2-3, 5-1), who overcame two one-goal deficits and took the lead for good on a header from Leudy Franco in the 72nd minute.
The East Hamilton loss gives the regular-season district title to Cleveland (11-3-3, 5-1), which takes the top seed based on its head-to-head win over the Owls last week. The Hurricanes (6-7-2, 4-2) fell to the fourth seed. They would have been the champions had they won Tuesday's match.
"Ten bad minutes drops us three spots," East Hamilton coach John Millard said.
The Hurricanes jumped on the board first, as Jose Orellana fired a shot from the left side that was deflected by Ooltewah keeper Joey Sealor. The ball rolled to Jordan Takrouri, who touched a pass to Jack Fletcher in front of the net for a 1-0 edge. Ooltewah evened the match in the 23rd minute, when a miscommunication on defense led to an opportunity by Wolfe, who netted a shot from about 10 yards out.
Both teams failed to convert opportunities early in the second half, as Orellana missed a chance right in front of the net and a couple of Franco tried included a free kick from the left wing that angled just over the net.
Brice Breakey gave East Hamilton another lead, chasing down a Robert Miller pass over the Ooltewah defense, sliding and touching the ball past keeper Taylor Vanzant. Ooltewah answered again about two minutes later, as a handball in the box led to a penalty kick for Wolfe.
Franco put the Owls ahead when he outjumped Hurricanes defenders on a Sam Eaton corner kick and headed the ball into the back of the net for what turned into the game-winner.
"East Hamilton outworked and outplayed us in the first half, and we were fortunate to only give up one goal," Ooltewah coach Rick Adolph said. "I'm pleased with how we responded; we came up with some stuff, and luckily today it worked."
Sealor finished with nine saves for the Owls, who played without forward Trey Tucker.
The Hurricanes will face Bradley Central in a district quarterfinal Saturday morning.
"Our inability to finish and some mistakes defensively were the difference in the game," Millard said. "We should have had four or five goals today, but you can't win this kind of game when you leave that many goals on the field, nor can you have the mistakes that led to their goals."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.