Lightning has struck twice for Sullivan South's athletic teams. After baseball lost on Friday evening, Malora Quisenberry's boys soccer team dropped a 1-0 overtime heartbreaker Saturday afternoon to Oak Ridge.
The Rebels, who are the I-AAA District and Regional Champs, put on quite a show this postseason, kicking it off by knocking off powerhouse Dobyns-Bennett in the District finals, then taking down Science Hill in the Regional finals.
Coming into the game, Oak Ridge knew what to expect, and they came out with their A game. The Rebels and Wildcats dueled back and forth for the 1st half with the halftime score knotted up at 0-0.
Oak Ridge’s Tony Cacheiro-Hamdi netted the only goal of the game from nearly forty yards out in the first 10 minute frame of the overtime period. The fifth-minute goal proved to be enough for the Wildcats (13-8-4), as they advance to the state tournament for the first time under head coach O.J. Sheppard.
“We talked at halftime about sending long balls to try to beat the sweeper keeper,” Sheppard said after the victory.
The halftime strategy was executed perfectly on the game’s only goal as Cacheiro-Hamdi’s kick cleared the outstretched arms of Rebel goalkeeper Aaron Pinto.
“Coach just said at halftime to take shots from as far as you can,” Cacheiro-Hamdi said, explaining the goal. “The goalie started to come up so I just shot.”
Sheppard blamed respect issues for the Wildcats' loss to the Rebels earlier this season, a 2-1 game on April 11. Cacheiro-Hamdi said respect wasn’t the issue when his team was preparing for the extra minutes.
“We knew they would come out with intensity and a lot of heart, so we just had to play hard," he said.
As for South, Coach Quisenberry said her team flat out ran out of luck.
"Luck definately was on Oak Ridge's side tonight and not ours," she said. She also stressed the fact that she and her assistants were very proud of this team and that they had set the bar for future teams.
South ends their season with a school record 14 wins, their first-ever District title and their second Regional title in 4 years.
Science Hill, the other area team in action, loss to Knox-West, leaving no eastern Tennessee team in the state tournament.