MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Mills Wood never had an ounce of doubt he would be able to return from his collarbone injury this year. The biggest surprise for him was that he was back with the Boyd Buchanan soccer team so quickly.
"I figured it would be right before the state tournament," Wood said, noting it wasn't the first time he'd had that particular injury.
Instead, it was a couple of weeks before the Spring Fling, and it provided a spark that helped the Buccaneers advance to the Division II-A semifinals at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex. Wood plays with emotion, and infusing that into the lineup prior to the district tournament was a positive for the Bucs.
"As you can see, he plays with all of his heart and battles for us," Boyd Buchanan coach Dustin Walker said. "His return gave us a spark and ended up being that spark that we needed to even get us here. It was a blessing to have somebody who works like he does, who is as physical as he is to be able to play balls into and then pull people off, it's such a blessing to have."
The result of the semifinal against Franklin Grace — a 3-2 overtime loss Wednesday evening — left Wood and the rest of the Bucs salty, but that's to be expected for a team that believed it was state championship-caliber despite basically putting a new lineup on the pitch in 2021.
The Bucs were up 2-0 five minutes into the second half after Ben Hauke's second goal, but they never seemed comfortable defensively as they were constantly fending off a powerful attack. The Lions tied the match with about seven minutes left in regulation, then scored the winner with about two minutes remaining in the second overtime period.
Boyd Buchanan expects to be young next year, too: Of the 13 players who appeared in Wednesday's match for the Bucs, only three were seniors and seven were freshmen or sophomores. And when they return next spring, they'll be looking for better results than the disappointing finish Wednesday.
"I think we did a good job of listening to our coaching staff this year," Wood said. "We got to state, so obviously we did something right."
Father Ryan 2, Baylor 2 (3-1 PKs): Baylor led twice in this Division II-AA semifinal, on a first-half goal by David Danquah and a second-half score by Ethan Nunes, but the Fighting Irish rallied each time to force the extra session, then won the penalty kick shootout after overtime finished with the score still knotted. Baylor's Nathan Lemus connected on his penalty kick, but the Irish went 3-for-4 on their attempts.
Christian Brothers 1, McCallie 1, Christian Brothers 1 (3-2 PKs): The Blue Tornado's season also ended with a shootout loss in the DII-AA semis. After regulation ended with no score, McCallie struck first in the first overtime on a William Stamper goal assisted by Gui Vivaldini. Christian Brothers responded in the second extra period, then outlasted the Blue Tornado in the shootout. Vivaldini and Neal Carlson connected on shots for McCallie.
Gatlinburg-Pittman 2, Signal Mountain 1: The Eagles fell behind by two goals in the first half and never recovered, falling in the Class A semifinals. Mats Dammann provided some hope with a goal in the 71st minute, but Sam Sonksen's shot on goal was the only one for Signal Mountain in the final 10 minutes.