The weather caused the match against Paideia to be rescheduled last week and there was a threat of it being cancelled this week. But, the weather held up just enough for the match to happen Monday night for the season finale for both teams. The Blazers have gotten better each time out on the field this season. They progressed defensively, allowing fewer goals each match, 7, 6, 3 and 1. Offensively they have been more aggressive, learning how to play as a team and to attack. It was a shortened season, due to the Covid pandemic and only having seven players. But that did not stop this group of determined young men and a coach who truly cared about his team, in Coach Caleb Lucas. They got 5 matches scheduled for 7 on 7 against local public and private schools to get started. Their stamina, attention to details and confidence was swelling up the more they were on the field.
Ten minutes into their final match, Sophomore Captain Luke Hutchinson scored on a penalty kick, ticking the scoreboard to 1-0 CBA. Aiz Dhanani scored on a breakaway from the left side, which has been his area of strength, in the 22nd minute, to give CBA a 2-0 lead, their biggest of the season. Paidaie put one past 8th Grade Goalkeeper Grayson Steinbach right before half time to make it 2-1.
Paidea came out with fire, trying to match The Blazers energy and would tie the match at 2-2 just 1 minute into the second half. Then, Hutchinson made on of the great plays of the season. The Center Midfielder took a ball from mid field towards the goal, smashing a kick that went off the top post. It bounced over the goalie and Hutchinson made the effort play to be there and hit a header into the net! This put CBA up 3-2. But, the Captain was not done for the night. Just 1 minute and 13 seconds later, he would get knocked down to the ground and awarded a penalty kick. Hutchinson took advantage and got it past the goalie and into the net for a hat trick, 3 goals, on the night!
Now The Blazers were up 4-2 and Paideia made a furious rally the last 17 minutes. They pushed to get the ball to their side of the field and in the middle so they could have options. It worked and they scored, to make it 4-3 with only 6 minutes left. Coach Lucas pleaded with his boys to take their time and be smart, using clock to finish off the win. After many great saves by CBA Goalkeeper Grayson Steinbach, and multiple defensive efforts, the team got the first ever win for Clayton-Bradley Academy High School Boys Soccer! Almost poetically, the sun came out in the final few minutes, for the first time in a few days in Blount County. Everyone present enjoyed the brightness and warmth that it brought, just like the win.
Coach Lucas was proud of his team, "We have been working for weeks and weeks together and it was so good for these boys to get what they deserve. This shows the work that everyone has been putting in the whole season. Their commitment proved to be worth it." Luke Hutchinson explained the mindset it took the get the win and his thoughts on the season, "With the rain the past couple of days and even today I was kind of already out of it. Once we got here I put myself in a mode. I have struggled mentally all season. Today I shut that all down and I went for it." Everyone notices his speed, but the Sophomore is not focused on that alone. "It is not just about the speed. Speed may get me where I need to be, but it is all about the mindset and having confidence. I talked with my dad, who played in college about this, and we talked about confidence being half the battle. If you have that confidence, speed does not really matter. You just have the mindset to go around somebody and get the ball.
When the Captain looks back at the season he says, "I was skeptical when we first met in the Fall. I did not know if we would have enough people and what the season would look like. My biggest fear was that leaving club soccer and playing for my school could slow me down. But, that was not the case and I definitely got something out of it. Coach Lucas and our team have helped me achieve the level that I wanted to play at and what this program needs to be at for our school. I am excited for the future."
Clayton-Bradley Academy Soccer is a sport that is growing and one that is popular amongst the students and families. The foundation that these young men, Coach Lucas and their families have laid is firm and is going to help build whatever is to come turn out to be great.
Congrats on the big win!