MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — For four years the East Hamilton girls' soccer program worked toward reaching its goal. On Monday the Lady Hurricanes became the first sports program in school history to appear in a TSSAA state championship game.
Senior Darci Zeh and company took great pride in that accomplishment after leaving yet another stellar effort on the field despite a 3-1 loss to Greeneville in the Class AA state title game at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex.
"We have been able to go to state for the past four years and to make it to the final game meant a lot to us," said Zeh, whose uniform was dirtied after putting forth an outstanding 15-save performance against a stout opponent.
"This team has a lot of heart and played with passion. Once we got here, we had a saying to stay on energy island. We did that and I couldn't be prouder of this team and to represent our school. We have built bonds that will last a lifetime."
East Hamilton (16-4) was the first to strike in the championship showdown as Alaina Fortune sent a booming free kick that bounced several times toward the 18-yard box where Malia Drumeller hammered the shot home for a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.
However, Greeneville (18-5) produced a relentless attack which sent 22 shots away in the first half, nine of which were saved by Zeh. The Lady Green Devils equalized in the 37th minute off a score from Anna Shaw, while Lindsey Cook and Macy Vermillion added goals in the 43rd and 64th.
The Lady Hurricanes' finals appearance was one that was hard earned as coach Carrie Tyler's team had to play more than 100 minutes in Saturday's semifinals, defeating Hume Fogg 4-2 in a penalty kick shootout after a 1-1 draw and two overtime periods. Zoey Burgner, Olivia Drumeller, Jesse Woodcook and Malia Drumeller scored on all four attempts, while Burgner scored her team's lone goal in regulation.
"This group developed a tenacity and relentlessness that carried us to this point," Tyler said. "We gelled as 21 players to get this far. Their dedication to the program and all their hard work has paid off. This is a season no one will forget. I couldn't be prouder of them."
East Hamilton was dominant this season defensively with 14 shutouts — one of which came in the state quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over Seymour — while 13 different players scored a goal. Zeh had 30 saves over three games at the state tournament.
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon