By Alex Norman
They’ve made winning boys’ soccer championships a regular experience at Christian Academy of Knoxville.
On Friday, May 24th, the Warriors won their second straight Division I Class A-AA title, with a 2-1 victory over Kingsbury. CAK downed Kingsbury for the 2012 championship as well.
“It means a lot for the boys,” said CAK head coach Kurt Backstrom. “We’ve got a lot of young people that continue to achieve great things. And the seniors that have been here four years deserve this. We’ve prepared all season.”
Backstrom, the long-time Farragut assistant coach, has now won his second championship in his second season running the show at CAK (23-3).
Before the game Backstrom said that win or lose, his team was going to learn a valuable lesson. It might have been how to work through adversity.
Senior forward Ryan Creel, the teams’ best offensive player, earned a red card in CAK’s semifinal victory over White House. That made him ineligible to play in the title game.
Last year Creel earned a red card in the state title game as well.
This season Kingsbury entered the game with an 11-11 record, but that certainly wasn’t indicative of how the Falcons had been playing in recent weeks. Kingsbury was on a seven game win streak, and with ten seniors on the roster, they had the experience to win the first state championship in school history.
The Warriors had a few chances in the first half, but had trouble getting anything past Falcons goalkeeper Rigoberto Navarro. Finally, in the 32nd minute, the CAK pressure earned a corner kick. Wade Crutchfield sent it towards the center of the box, where sophomore Stephen Pardue got his head on the soccer ball.
It took once bounce, and snuck just inside the post, and CAK had a 1-0 lead.
The game turned shortly thereafter, when Kingsbury senior forward Aro Nebk was given a red card for abusive language. That forced the Falcons to play with only 10 men for the remainder of the game.
In the second half, CAK’s Jon Creel found senior Stevie Thompson on the move in the Kingsbury end of the field. Thompson sent the ball forward, made one defender miss, and then buried the opportunity, beating Navarro. With under 25 minutes to go, the Warriors had a 2-0 lead.
A two goal advantage against a short-handed team had their fans feeling good. But in the 73rd minute, the Warriors defense let up just a bit. Jose Marquez beat CAK keeper Ryan Alberts, and the Falcons had life, trailing 2-1.
But there wasn’t enough time left on the clock for Kingsbury. CAK held on for yet another state championship.
“Kingsbury is a very good team,” said Backstrom. “I’m proud of our guys and pleased with the outcome.”
The scary thought for the rest of the state rests in the fact that the CAK roster is very young. Many of the players that received significant playing time in this tournament will be back again in 2014.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see this team back in Murfreesboro next May.