Michael Powell's goal five minutes into Tuesday's high school boys' soccer match started the scoring for Chattanooga Christian. What no one knew at the time was that his shot would also finish it.
In a matchup between two of last year's state-tournament teams, defending Class A/AA champion CCS made the early lead hold for a 1-0 home victory over Division II opponent Baylor.
"From a mental standpoint, you're ahead, but you still have 75 minutes left to play," Chargers' coach Shawn Brower said of his team's response to Powell's strike from about 12 yards out.
"I was a little bit concerned about how we might respond. I really anticipated that there would be more goals, but I was pleased with our mental toughness and not letting down after we scored early."
While the Chargers displayed energy as they pressed for a goal in the opening minutes, Baylor coach Curtis Blair was watching the opposite from his team. Although Tuesday marked the first loss of the season for the Red Raiders (4-1-2), Blair said his team has struggled with slow starts all year.
"We came out pretty flat at the beginning," Blair said. "I thought we were going to create more opportunities than we did. All year long, we really haven't been coming out very focused. They have to find a way to be ready to play at the first whistle."
Baylor was also playing without four starters who are currently dealing with injuries. The Red Raiders still managed a 3-0 region win over Battle Ground Academy on Saturday and hope to have several of those players back on the field when they return to region play against Ensworth on Thursday.
The injuries have forced Blair's team into trying new players at different positions, but that combination worked well enough in the second half Tuesday to put the Chargers' lead in jeopardy several times. With starting keeper Cameron Anderson playing in the field, Trae Terry took over in goal and came up with several key saves to preserve the shutout and the victory for CCS (5-1-1).
"In the second half, they were pushing really hard and we got back on our heels," Brower said. "But we really battled hard tonight against a very quality opponent. For our guys to get another shutout against a team like Baylor should give us some confidence."
(E-mail Jaime Barrett at email@example.com)