Luke Cabe pictured the moment in his head before providing the lone goal in Soddy-Daisy's 1-0 win against visiting Red Bank for the District 8-AA soccer championship Thursday night.
The fast and springy senior picked the perfect time to strike as he crept in off the right side of the post to jump and drill a header into the back left corner of the net in the 38th minute, scoring off senior center forward Jensen Harbaugh's left-footed free kick that went right to his forehead.
"I was standing behind the defense just barely onsides, and I could see Jensen was going to kick it. I was just thinking to myself, this one is it. This one is it," said Cabe, who also played basketball and is a standout long jumper for the track and field team who has leapt 20 feet, 4 inches this spring.
"The ball went up, and I jumped off my right foot, and boom. The ball came off my head like 100 miles an hour and went straight into the left side of the net. I have never felt so much excitement in a moment. It was such an intense moment for all of us and one we have really worked hard for."
With Red Bank (13-5-2) possessing the ball for nearly 70% of the match, it was the play of the defensive back line of Soddy-Daisy (15-2-1) that made one goal enough for the title.
Trojans goalkeeper Noah Blue was nearly drawn to tears as the final whistle sounded and his teammates sprinted at him from every direction. The 6-foot-3 senior provided a brilliant moment in the second half when he dove fully outstretched to his left to save a line-drive shot from Red Bank star senior Josiah Tillett in the 60th minute.
"Noah is the man back there," Trojans coach Clint Steele said. "He is the best keeper I have ever had. Jensen and Luke were tremendous tonight, too, and Omar Lopez dropped back to cover one of their best players when Jake Wright came out of goal to try to spark their attack.
"We haven't won a district championship since 2009, so this feels amazing. I credit it to these guys' extra effort all season. Any time we had a Saturday training session, we would have 12 to 14 guys out every time. Their focus and mental toughness has been brilliant all season. It's easy to coach these guys. It really is."
Harbaugh displayed how mentally tough Soddy-Daisy has been all season late during what was a turbulent second half, including a Red Bank player receiving a red card for throwing a punch.
After a hard foul that had Harbaugh down on the grass, he did a couple of pushups to fire up the home crowd. The Trojans won for the eighth time this season in a game decided by two or fewer goals.
"All season we have had to grind out a lot of results," Harbaugh said. "Our captains really lined us up great tonight, and I did everything I could to help our younger talented guys who have never been in moments like this. Our team's mental toughness really stands out. It's a credit to the job Coach Clint and our assistants have done with this program.
"Our mentality is to keep the ball out of the goal and play great soccer in five-minute increments until the final whistle sounds. We did that again tonight."
Soddy-Daisy will host Sequoyah in the region semifinals, while Red Bank will travel to East Hamilton next week.
McCallie 6, Pope John Paul II 3: In a first-round game for Division II-AA state competition, Reece Jordan drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth, when the Blue Tornado broke a 3-all tie by scoring three runs in the inning. Grayson Smith had 10 strikeouts as he pitched a complete game for McCallie, Nolan Sergeant had two hits and two walks, and Zach Porter went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
PJP II 3, McCallie 2: Tyler Robertson had a walk-off bunt to force Friday's decisive game three in the first-round state series. Nolan Sergeant and J. Michael Pierce drove in runs for the Blue Tornado in the top of the sixth and seventh innings, and Carter Hewitt led McCallie's lineup with two hits.
Chattanooga Christian 8-13, Lipscomb Academy 7-1: The Lady Chargers (17-15) swept a home doubleheader to secure their spot in the DII-AA state tournament, winning the first game on a walk-off single from Addison Lewis. Hannah Smith had four hits in the opener, when Lauren McGill had three, including a triple, and knocked in three runs. Hannah Blevins added two doubles and Autumn Hughes struck out eight batters.
In the second game, McGill and Emily Matthews combined to go 5-for-5 at the plate, Nyla Halfacre scored three runs and Smith did not allow an earned run in four innings as the Lady Chargers cruised.