Halftime score: 1-0. Goals: Jalen Goddard, Jose Orellano, Cameron Carter, Casey Hardison. Assists: Carter. Shots: 8-6, EH. Saves: Fielder Dennis 5 (EH). Other standouts: Casey Malone, Alex McCarney (EH). Records: East Hamilton 18-1-2; East Ridge 13-3-2.
If it's not broke ...
Having to beat a rival for a third time in a season often calls for more creative game-planning, regardless of sport.
For the East Hamilton high school boys' soccer team, though, it was more of the same as the Hurricanes defeated district rival East Ridge for the third time. The 4-0 win Thursday in the Region 3-A/AA final lifted East Hamilton (18-1-2) into Saturday's sectional round, where the 'Canes will host Chattanooga Christian at 5.
The Pioneers (13-3-2), whose only losses are to East Hamilton, will visit Region 4 champion Notre Dame on Saturday.
"We've had success against them, so we didn't want to change much," East Hamilton coach John Millard said. "In the last game (a 1-0 win) we had several chances, but we just didn't finish. The difference today was we had the same chances and the guys finished."
The first good chance came 18 minutes in, when senior forward Jonah Goddard intercepted a pass 25 yards dead center in front of the East Ridge goal and quickly sent a strong shot into the net.
"I started playing up top at the beginning of the game, and literally a minute before the goal he switched me to midfield," Goddard said. "They tried to clear the box and they passed it to their center-mid, and I kind of pressed on them and got a loose ball."
The Pioneers did not allow any other strong opportunities but also never got untracked offensively, managing just four shots on goal in each half. The Hurricanes, more aggressive to start the second half, scored five minutes in when Jose Orellano punched in a rebound off the team's third shot of the possession.
Barely three minutes later, Cameron Carter scored on another rebound, and Casey Hardison ended the scoring by sticking in his own rebound shot just before the match's end.
Millard, whose team has now posted 11 consecutive shutouts, praised the Hurricanes' overall effort on the defensive end.
"We have a great keeper and great backs," said Millard, referring to senior keeper Fielder Dennis and defenders Hardison, Alex McCarney, Brice Breakey and Kyle Gallups. "We defend well as a team, from the forwards on back to the goal. It's like I've said, we may have five solid opportunities to score and not finish them, but if we're solid defensively we'll always have a chance. They've really bought into that."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.