Who the DII-A East Region champions would be was answered in less than half an hour. Yes, Boyd Buchanan still played another hour after they scored their first goal, but the 3-0 win never seemed to be in doubt. Playing in front of their home fans, the Buccaneers put the Christian Academy of Knoxville's team in a deep blue prison en route to another trip to the Spring Fling.
“Oh my gosh, it feels amazing,” coach Dustin Walker said.
“We love these guys, and I couldn’t be more excited for them. They’ve earned it. They haven’t taken a day off mentally all year.”
Boyd Buchanan almost scored in 16th minute, when an opportunistic Edson Angel had a crack at the goal. It bounced on the ground and then shot back up, seemingly destined for a place in the back of the net. Instead, it popped back into the field of play, and Boyd Buchanan’s scoreless draw with CAK continued.
That was until the 24th minute, when Hayden Sarchet lofted a cross into the box from the very edges of the pitch. It was momentarily lost among the congested mass of bodies. Out of this scrum came Mills Wood, who always seems to know how and where to find the ball. He carved out space and tapped a goal in for Boyd Buchanan’s first score.
“It feels good, and our team played well,” striker Mills Wood said about punching their ticket to the state playoffs. “We still have a long way to go though.”
CAK wasn’t just going to passively sit back after this. Orchestrating the attack was Chase Stokely as the attacking midfielder, and in front of him was Jack Britton and Daniel Gallegos making runs, On the other side was a backline trio of Lane Park, Matt Stone and Hutch Healy holding it down for the Buccaneers.
The midfield play was nothing short of crucial in the Buccaneers quest to maintain or expand their lead. In the first half, Camden Park played the role of a gritty defensive mid who screened for his back line. Ben Hauke played a more creative part, and he had the liberty to make rapid dribbling runs forward while flanked by Phillip Collins and Angel on the wings.
In the 47th minute, it was Collins’ turn to make his mark on the game. But rather than do so by dribbling past opponents on the wings, he did so on a set piece. Triston McCurdy lofted a high cross in from the right corner, and Collins was ready for it. He bounced upward and headed the ball past the keeper, thus giving Boyd Buchanan a 2-0 lead.
CAK had a few solid opportunities through the rest of the game, but they were unable to get one past Boyd’s keeper. When Cam Park slotted one in with about ten minutes to go, that essentially slammed the door shut on CAK’s season. It was a rare moment in the spotlight for Cam Park, who otherwise did his essential job in anonymity.
“Cam stepped up and played hard tonight,” Wood said. “He’s a defensive mid so not a lot of people give them a lot of thought, but I thought he really played his hardest.”
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