High School

Bad Bounces Cost Chuckey-Doak In District 1-A Title Game

Bad Bounces Cost Chuckey-Doak In District 1-A Title Game
Written by 
Tate Russell
May 15, 2023

We love soccer at times because of the game’s mercurial nature. The game can change in the most dramatic fashion with the single swing of a leg. The ball bounces in often unpredictable ways, and comebacks are often within reach by simply stringing a few good touches together at the right time.

But on Thursday the fickle beast that is the world’s game reared its ugly head against Chuckey-Doak in the District 1-A championship game with University High. The Black Knights dominated the attack, and in most respects controlled the game, but some of the most unlikely balls ever sent at the frame hit the back of the net and the Buccaneers left with a 3-2 overtime win and a league title.

“We gave them a district championship tonight,” Chuckey-Doak coach Cory Braithwaite said. “They had one shot on goal and scored on two free kicks. We had a ton of chances and we just couldn’t put it away.”

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Chuckey-Doak is not done and advances to next week’s Region 1-A Tournament. In the semifinals on Tuesday the Knights will travel to Alcoa in an elimination game. Alcoa beat Gatlinburg-Pittman 3-2 on Thursday in the District 2-A title game.

“We’re going to have to get our heads right before Tuesday,” Braithwaite said. “I’m ok with going to Alcoa. We will go in there as the underdog. All the weight is off our shoulders. We can play loose and have fun and when we play that way, we are at our best.”

The first of University High’s highly improbable goals came in the 20th minute. It came right after Chuckey-Doak’s Jesus Rojas worked into the box and fired a shot that University High keeper Sam McGee stopped. McGee then booted the ball away from his goal and it bounded over 100 yards, thrice hopping over the Black Knights, but never going offline. The final hop was over the head of Chuckey-Doak keeper Levi Wirt for a 1-0 lead.

“When the defense makes mistakes, when the goalie makes mistakes, we give up goals,” Braithwaite said. “Then we get up here and our forwards shoot 20 times and miss 20 times, and everybody claps. Being a defender is difficult. It’s mentally exhausting, because your mistakes are so often the difference between winning and losing. That ball bounced three times over our heads. We started that play by giving the ball to them. Eleven people gave up that goal.”

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That lead grew to 2-0 in the 25th minute on another improbable shot. Easton Wells took a free kick from beyond 40 yards on the left side, and his high-arcing shot snuck just under the cross bar.

Chuckey-Doak wasted little time answering and Ethan Grindstaff worked right through the defense and then pounded a shot from six yards that beat McGee to the right post to close the gap to 2-1.

Chuckey-Doak kept the pressure up in the second half and sent a multitude of shots at the frame, but McGee kept getting his hands on them. Rio Little started the half by making a solo run through the heart of the Bucs’ defense and then passing off to Brayden Collins. Collins had a chance, but University’s defense was able to step in at the last second to thwart the attempt.

In the 51st minute Marco Rojas beat the defense with his speed and entered the box all alone, but McGee came out and met Rojas’ boot before he could attempt a shot.

In the 61st minute the Black Knights drew up the perfect set piece and Collins sent a corner kick into the box as Jonathan Brenes came charging to meet it with his head. The shot went just over the cross bar.

Chuckey-Doak did find the tying goal in the 65th minute. On another corner kick McGee was called for pushing a teammate into a Chuckey-Doak player and a penalty kick was awarded. Grindstaff buried the free try to even things at 2-2.

That is where the score stayed until the end of regulation and the game went to overtime.

Chuckey-Doak looked like it had the game winner when Pablo Dimas sent a great pass ahead to Jesus Rojas. Rojas had McGee beat but his shot banged off the cross bar and the keeper was the first to recover.

In the 95th minute again Chuckey-Doak had what looked like the game winner. Little and Grindstaff exchanged passes as they moved through the defense and once in the box Grindstaff’s last touch went off McGee’s hand and slowly rolled at the goal line. But just before it touched the stripe University’s Jacob Winfield stepped in and stopped the ball.

The Bucs final goal came with 32 seconds left in overtime when a foul was called left of the box and 25 yards out. This time Tyler DeGennaro placed the perfect ball into the net for a 3-2 University High win.

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