STORY BY MITCHELL STEPHENSON | PHOTOS BY CARL EDMONDSON, JR.
The Christian Presbyterian Academy Lions entered the title game with hopes of finishing this remarkable season with a state title.
But the Lions fell short with a loss to Evangelical Christian School 3-0 in the D-II A state soccer championship game Thursday night at MTSU.
The Lions entered the game with an outstanding record of 21-1 against ECS equally impressive 21-0-3 record. CPA fought ferociously the entire game. Throughout the first half there were several near misses that would have given CPA the early lead.
But it was ECS who took the momentum into halftime with a flurry of goals just under the 10:00 minute mark of the half. Brandon Brackett, Evan Stooky, and KuKu Kumtor all scored to give the ECS Eagles the 3-0 lead going into the half.
In the second half CPA tried to push the tempo and create some scores but ECS was able to thwart all the scoring attempts by the Lions. The team defense by ECS was key as CPA only recorded eight shots on goal. While ECS was able to create enough offense to attempt 18 shots scoring 3 of them.
CPA head coach Tom Gerlach gave his thoughts on the championship loss.
“It’s always better to win than to lose. But, I told the guys, if you judge a programs success by the last team that wins, then that means there’s only one successful team in the state. And that’s not true.
“The success of the program is how it’s left. We talked about legacy, and the legacy they leave. We talked about making the finals, and in their heart they want to win that. But this group of seniors have really bought into what we’re all about, which is love God first, love your brothers second, love the game third.”
Gerlach highlighted a part of being an athlete in a moment like this that often goes overlooked.
“When you have a bunch of young people looking, you have a lot of eyes on you, and how you hold yourselves in the losses is really your ministry,” he said. “It’s easy to have a lot of class, it’s easy to go out there and be happy, and cheerful when you win. But sometimes in pain that’s when God shines the most.
“They are training the next generation to represent yourselves. And props to ECS. I have a lot of respect for Jordan [Thompson]. His boys came out and capitalized on the opportunities they had.”