"It Was So Close To Crazy:" Red Bank Soccer Season Ends In Semifinals

Lions Fall To Page In 0-1 Finale

Wednesday, May 25, 2022 - by Joseph Dycus
Red Bank goalkeeper Jake Wright leaps to deflect a shot in the Lions, 0-1, loss to Page.
Red Bank goalkeeper Jake Wright leaps to deflect a shot in the Lions, 0-1, loss to Page.
- photo by Joseph Dycus

MURFREESBORO, Tenn – Red Bank’s forward had the ball and was pressing toward the goal, he played in a shot. There was a tenth of a second left on the clock, and the fans present witnessed the closest thing soccer has to basketball’s buzzer-beater.

 

But the shot was barely saved, mere inches from going in. In what had been Red Bank’s greatest season ever, the Lions came up excruciatingly short from their first trip to the state championship game and lost 0-1.

His players were dejected, but coach Chris Tillett was beaming with pride when asked to talk about his team and what they had accomplished.

 

“It was an awesome, awesome run,” coach Tillett said. “The seniors believed this would be what would happen at the beginning of the season, and they fleshed out that dream every day in practice.”

 

The Page Patriots were dominant in every phase of the game outside of scoring goals. They took 17 shots and maintained the majority of possession, while Red Bank tried to hit them on the counter and thus only took five shots. Red Bank goalkeeper Jake Wright was nearly flawless, with the only goal allowed being a high-arching shot that was possibly aided by the elements.

 

“It was so close to crazy, wasn’t it,” Tillett asked about the close plays. “That shot in the second half, he should’ve shot it in the first half so the wind wouldn’t have carried it over.”

 

That wind completely changed the game for both teams, since clearances became impossible, and defenders were asked to play out of the back under the highest stakes imaginable. Red Bank’s back line of Giovanni Aleman, Cesar Salazar, Eddie Birdsong and Elijah Tillett all performed well given the circumstances. Substitutes Julio Andres and Estuardo Rabanales also provided energy when given the chance.

 

Although it’s not like Red Bank’s players, starters or subs, needed a shot in the arm. The senior-laden Lions competed and had a chance to win until the literal buzzer sounded. Coach Tillett said the senior class of players, with studs such as Ramiro Vazquez and Darieun Ross, have set a new standard for the program.

 

“Yeah, they’re hurting right now, but when they get time to reflect on what we did this season, they’ll see we were three halves away from winning the state championship,” coach Tilett said. “It was an incredible run, and they’ve definitely set a new standard, because all of the underclassmen assume we’re coming back next year.”

 

Do you have an opinion on this article, or have a story you believe needs coverage? You can contact the author at Joseph.A.Dycus@gmail.com or on Twitter at @joseph_dycus.


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