By SAM McGAW
MURFREESBORO — Christ Presbyterian Academy’s reign of dominance in Class A-AA soccer ended Wednesday
The Lions (16-5-1) fell one game short of making their fourth consecutive state championship appearance with a 2-1 semifinal loss against Greeneville (19-4-2) at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex.
The matchup was also CPA’s final game as a Division I team, as it will transition to Division II this summer.
“Greeneville has developed an incredible program,” CPA head coach Tom Gerlach said. “They have built in the last 10 years from the ground-up. We’ve knocked them out a couple of times. When that keeps happening, you get this hunger and this passion when you’re coming into a game like this.”
Greeneville will take on Page for the Class A-AA championship at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex
It’s the first time in TSSAA history a private school won’t play for the Class A-AA championship.
“I think it’s ironic after all this time everyone wanted the private schools out of Division I and then look what happens,” Gerlach joked. “If they just buy their time and build a program, you can make it to the D-1 finals without us being gone. That’s because Greeneville and Page have proven that hard work, perseverance, good coaching and a community buying into what their about builds a great program.”
CPA won two straight state titles before earning a runner-up finish against Christian Academy of Knoxville last season.
The Lions entered Wednesday’s contest on a 13-game win streak.
“We’re a young team,” Gerlach said. “We only really start three seniors. We were rebuilding from last year. Shoot, if you’re in a rebuilding year and make the state semifinals, that’s not too bad.”
Greeneville took a 1-0 lead just under 25 minutes into the game with a strike from Gray Hull off a rebound.
Baker Avinger tied the game seven minutes later with a shot from past the top of the box.
“That was a world-class goal,” Gerlach said. “It gave us a shot of adrenaline we needed and I thought we came back pretty well.”
Hull gave the Green Devils the go-ahead score in the 53rd minute off a rebound from the left side of the box.
Greeneville finished with 10 shots on goal, compared to CPA’s five.
“They were probably the fastest and most physical team we played this season,” Gerlach said. “They wanted it and they played with a lot of passion.”