Signal Mountain senior captain Drew Godbehere took full stock of the moment following the Eagles' Class A/AA sectional soccer match with Arts & Sciences on Saturday afternoon.
On one hand, he was thrilled that the 5-0 victory over the Patriots earned Signal Mountain its first-ever berth in the TSSAA state soccer tournament. On the other hand, Godbehere was sad to reflect on the fact the match was his last on the Eagles' home field.
"Two years ago, none of us would have expected that we would have been here right now," Godbehere said of the unbeaten and top-ranked Eagles (17-0-2). "It's an awesome feeling to have worked for the past five years to reach the point where we are going to get to go to the state tournament. It's still a little sad to know this was our last game ever on this field.
"But we are the first guys' or girls' soccer team in the history of Signal Mountain High School to make it to the state tournament."
Bidding farewell to their field in the rain, the Eagles quickly adapted to the soggy conditions, taking the lead on Josh Patta's unassisted goal two minutes into the match. Patta then set up Robert Schorr for a 2-0 lead 20 midway through the first half.
A pair of unassisted goals by Stephan Heinichen - the second of which touched the twine in the final minute of the half - put the match well out of reach of the Patriots (11-8-2).
"Even though the conditions were the same for both teams, they helped us more because our guys like to play things in the air," Eagles coach Richard Northcutt said. "Arts & Sciences has some very skilled midfielders, but in these conditions it was hard for them to dribble the way that they can."
The final goal for the Eagles, whose midfield and forwards controlled the tempo of the match, put an exclamation mark on the air attack with Conner Apthorp heading a perfect crossing pass by Jason Roth into the net. The Eagles had a 14-1 advantage in shots on goal.
"To start out by going down 2-0 to Signal Mountain, it's a big hill to climb," Patriots coach David Poss said of the first 20 minutes. "Unfortunately for us, they were skilled in the air and we are skilled on the ground. The thing I hate for our guys is that we were a much better team than the score today. But [the Eagles] are tough."
"Coming into the season, I knew we were good, but I didn't know how good anyone else was," Northcutt said. "These are all real good kids. They worked very hard, and it has paid off."
Contact Greg Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org