Hixson soccer coach Jeff Dean was real quick to point out that he was pleased with his team's 2-2 tie against Class A/AA seventh-ranked East Hamilton on Tuesday.
He also was mindful, though, that the Wildcats were mere minutes from a result even better than that.
A goal by the Hurricanes' Jonah Goddard with about seven minutes remaining created the final result, which gave East Hamilton the regular-season district title. With one district loss already, the Wildcats would have needed a win to create a three-way tie involving those two and East Ridge, and Hixson could have claimed the title outright with a two-goal victory Tuesday.
The Wildcats took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Sikhou Sy early in the second half and started to press forward in hopes of creating an extra goal, but East Hamilton was able to create an opportunity and Jalen Goddard found his brother for the equalizer.
"We made some adjustments when they started to push for the third goal," Hurricanes coach John Millard said, "and those [adjustments] were hard to come by tonight.
"I knew this is what we were going to see tonight. Hixson pressured us a lot offensively."
East Hamilton (10-1-2, 6-0-1) took a 1-0 edge in the early minutes when Jalen Goddard headed in a Wes Owens corner kick, but Hixson tied the game on an own goal by East Hamilton.
The Wildcats (8-3-1, 8-3-1, 5-1-1) controlled most of the second half, with Sy, Nau Alvarez and Mauricio Moreno powering the attack and the defense not allowing East Hamilton to penetrate the middle.
"This is the team I've been wanting to see," Dean said. "It's a big confidence builder for us going into the playoffs."
Hixson will be the third seed when the district tournament begins.
"We brought that upon ourselves, but we're a fighting bunch and we're going to continue to fight," Dean said.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/gh3sports.