A week ago, Boyd-Buchanan had to watch Arts & Sciences celebrate after winning the District 5-A/AA title. On Thursday, the Bucs turned the tables with a 2-0 victory over the Patriots in the Region 3 championship match.
The victory at Finley Stadium allows Boyd-Buchanan to host a Class A/AA state sectional on Saturday against Murfreesboro Central with a spot in next week's state tournament on the line. Signal Mountain defeated the mid-state magnet school 3-2 in Thursday's 4-A/AA final, meaning CSAS will travel to face the Eagles in the other sectional.
"I think we thought we were a little better than we actually were last time," Boyd-Buchanan coach Jason Owens said of last week's district championship match. "CSAS is a good team, and we underestimated them. This time, we knew what they had, and we came out knowing what we needed to do to win."
The Bucs came out pressuring from the start of the region final, and had four near-miss headers in the first 37 minutes. With about two and a half minutes remaining in the opening period, they finally connected when Zach Jenkins flicked to Kenny Diaz, who finished in front of the net to put Boyd-Buchanan up 1-0 at the half.
"I think that we didn't have our best game in some areas, and that hurt us tonight," CSAS coach David Poss said. "The last time we played, we were really clicking all over the field. We missed some opportunities not just up front, but also to play the ball better in the midfield. I think they controlled the middle a little better than we did. I thought we played it well out of the back, but in the middle we gave it up a little."
Boyd-Buchanan continued creating chances in the second half, and although the Patriots also managed several dangerous opportunities, the Bucs finished another one midway through the period. Jenkins recieved a Brogen Baker kick and sent a high header arching over the head of the Patriots keeper for a 2-0 lead that CSAS couldn't overcome.
"Sometimes you get up a goal, and you feel like you're doing well so you let up," Owens said. "They never did that. They came out stronger for the second half than they did for the first, and I think I was more proud of them for that than anything else."
Added Bucs coach Dustin Walker, "I feel like we kept the momentum for the majority of the game. But in these types of games, you just never know. If you don't bury your chances, they can. They're very dangerous, and they have such a great goalkeeper that we knew it was going to take something special to beat them."
The loss drops CSAS to 11-7-2 and gives them the tough task of going on the road to face unbeaten and top-ranked Signal Mountain for Saturday's sectional. But Poss expects his team, which has already accomplished so much this season, to be ready for the challenge.
"I don't think we just came out and rested because we know we're going to be playing on Saturday," he said, "but at the same time, I've been at CSAS for five years and this is the first time we've ever had a winning season. To go from that to sectionals is a huge accomplishment."
The region title is the first for Boyd-Buchanan since 2010, when the Bucs went on to win a state championship, and Walker said his 15-4-3 team has benefitted from strong leadership all season.
"The majority of these guys have been starting since they were freshmen," he said. "This class has such a good group of leaders, and we're so excited for them to finally be able to call themselves champions."
(E-mail Jaime Barrett at email@example.com)