The Union army's control of Signal Mountain was critical for the army's survival during the siege of Chattanooga and when that control was challenged by the Confederates attacking the supply lines the upper hand had to be maintained by daring raids. Now it is critical for Chattanooga School for the Arts and Science's state tournament hopes to also control Signal Mountain. The battle will be waged at 5:45 p.m. at SMMHS soccer complex Thursday night as Signal Mountain will try to keep the upper hand in a quest for the Division 1A state soccer title.
More recent history shows the importance of winning this contest. During the girl's soccer season this fall, Signal Mountain beat CSAS in the region and continued their run all the way to the state finals. By losing CSAS was sent on the road in the sub-state and lost a hard fought game to Merrol Hyde in Hendersonville. Again this spring the losing team will have to travel to either Merrol Hyde or RePublic, a new charter school in Nashville, depending on the results of their region final.
The importance of home field was also demonstrated in the region semifinals played just yesterday. Signal Mountain earned home field in their semifinal and continued their defensive dominance by defeating Cascade 5-0. SM Assistant Coach Michael Goza explained that Cascade played a good game, only allowing one goal by Aaron Easterly in the first half, but as the road team tired the Signal Mountain offense came alive with goals scored by Max Grey, Ricky Rios, Max Watson, and Jimmy Johnson in the second.
CSAS on the other hand had a very long night on the road yesterday. The almost two hour drive to Fayetteville high school proved to be the easy part for the boys. There were over two hours of lightning delays before and during the game. The CSAS defense continued to be strong against a solid Tiger team holding a dangerously fast Tiger forward and his team to only 5 shots while CSAS took over 25 shots forcing the Tiger keeper to make 11 saves.
However at the end of regulation, the score remained 0-0 adding 20 more minutes of extra time to the evening. The tie was broken with two minutes left in the second overtime period by a wonderfully placed free kick from 40 meters out by Will Fraser that rebounded straight down off the crossbar into the back of the keeper insuring the ball's trip into the goal. Many of the team members did not get home until after 2 a.m. Home field is critical and can only be earned for sub-state with a win in your region final.
The most important part of a victory in tomorrow's battle is the pride and the bragging rights for these rival teams. This game is a rubber match for the series after a regular season CSAS victory in a 4-3 PK shootout after a scoreless regulation and a 1-0 Signal Mountain victory in the district finals. Expectations are for another defensive battle driven by the cheers of students and fans. If the old adage "defense wins championships" is true, both these teams should be dangerous if they make it to the state tournament.