The Boyd-Buchanan soccer coaches weren't sure if the Buccaneers would be able to shut out East Ridge, their opponent in the Region 3-A/AA semifinals Tuesday. But they knew if they could slow them down, they'd have a solid chance to advance to Thursday's region final.
Thursday, here come the Bucs.
Boyd-Buchanan limited the potent Pioneers to one goal, but the East Ridge defense equaled that effort, and it took a 5-3 score in a penalty-kick shootout for the Bucs to advance to the region championship match. The Bucs (14-3-1) will face a familiar foe in Arts & Sciences, which defeated Hixson 4-0, for the title at CSAS.
The teams went into overtime scoreless, but Boyd-Buchanan struck first in the first 10-minute session, as Justus McMillan headed in a Kenny Diaz corner kick. The Bucs were within seconds of claiming the victory in the second 10-minute overtime, but just before the official blew his whistle, the Pioneers' John Mwamba blew a rocket shot past the Bucs defense and keeper Andreas Mosvold from about 25 yards out.
McMillan, Diaz, John Beasley, Hunter Bradford and David Ingram made penalty kicks for the Bucs during the shootout. A big miss from East Ridge's Richard Castro provided the difference.
"Last year we let them push us around," Boyd-Buchanan co-head coach Jason Owens said of last season's 2-0 East Ridge win. "This year we weren't going to let that happen. We knew how they were going to fight because we knew how well they could score, but we were able to shut them down offensively."
East Ridge (11-6-1), which loses 12 seniors, had penalty-kick goals from Tad Whitaker, Rasim Kazic and Kolbe King.
"We went all out and just battled from the beginning to the end," East Ridge coach Jeremy McIntyre said. "We knew that if Boyd was going to score, it was going to be from either a corner kick, a long throw or a free kick, and sure enough, they got one on a corner kick. There were two great teams going at it, and I'm proud of how we fought tonight."
• Arts & Sciences 4, Hixson 0: The Patriots (11-6-2) received goals from Markos Howard, Zachary Webber, Cade Murry and Christo Payne to advance past the Wildcats.
• Signal Mountain 5, Merrol Hyde 2: Joshua Patta had a hat trick to help the Eagles (15-0-2) advance to their first-ever region final. Stephen Heinichen and Connor Apthorp added goals, while Tennessee Wesleyan signee Adam Pickett had seven saves in goal.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.