E.A. Sports Today

Faith falls in final

[corner-ad id=2]Lions run into relentless attackers, stifling defense in 1A-3A boys title game

Faith keeper Caleb McCord makes another save under Westminster's relentless pressure. (Photo by Tony Bedford)

Faith keeper Caleb McCord makes another save under Westminster’s relentless pressure. (Photo by Tony Bedford)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

HUNTSVILLE — Westminster-Oak Mountain showed why it holds the No. 1 ranking in the classification — and probably could in a few others, too — controlling both ends of the pitch and defeating Faith Christian 4-0 for the boys Class 1A-3A state championship Friday.

The Knights (16-1-2) thoroughly controlled the action offensively, continually playing in the Faith end and peppering Lions keeper Caleb McCord with shots. They also formed an iron-clad back line that limited the Lions’ scoring chances.

They outshot Faith 22-2 and had 10 corner kicks to the Lions’ one.

“They’re the best 1A through 6A team,” Lions senior Josiah McDaniel said.

Westminster snapped a scoreless tie less than four minutes before halftime when tournament MVP Jack Stein controlled a ball in the box, turned and fired past McCord.

The Knights really turned up the pressure in the second half, scoring three goals on 16 shots. The Lions (13-3), playing in a state championship match for the first time in school history, had one shot in each half.

Jared Keeler made it 2-0 three minutes into the second half and Daniel Richardson’s header with 19:28 to play made it 3-0. Nathan Richards capped another relentless Knights attack to score with 7:36 left.

“It was crazy; that was the toughest team I’ve ever played — by far,” a tearful McCord said as teammates were gathering their belongings around him. “It was one after the other. None of them should’ve gone in, but it happens.”

McDaniel and striker Tyler Johnson were limited by injuries, but the way the Knights were marking players, they would have had a difficult time breaking free anyway.

McDaniel suffered a torn hamstring and Johnson suffered a dislocated right ankle, but both bravely tried to play through it. Even in his pain, McDaniel helped his teammate walk from the bench area.

Johnson had the Lions’ best scoring chance, when he volleyed a ball to himself between two defenders, 10 minutes into the match.

“Their job was definitely to cover me and Josiah; they did that very well,” Johnson said. “They man-marked us the whole game and we couldn’t do anything.”

Everything the Lions had on their person for the 1A-3A championship was good to go.

All the way down to their socks.

The Lions received a bench yellow card 30 seconds into Thursday’s semifinal against Madison Academy for having green stripes on the socks of their all-white home uniforms.

Team parents scoured the town looking for — and purchasing — compliant style green socks for the title match.

The team showed up at the John Hunt Soccer Complex Friday in road greens, complete with green socks with white striping — which matched the striping on their jerseys.

“These are legal,” Faith coach Erik McDaniel said while watching his team warm up. “We were told these were legal.”

The problem wasn’t the striping, it’s that home team uniforms must be completely white.

The Lions have worn all green only once this season — on St. Patrick’s Day when they beat Temple (Ga.) 9-1. It was the match a game referee told McDaniel afterwards he didn’t think the Lions played good defense, a suggestion that spurred them to numerous shutouts this season.

The Lions and Knights had played once preciously this season with Westminster winning 4-2. But Faith is one of only three teams this season to have scored at least two goals in the Knights.

The players agreed the Knights were just as relentless in this one as they were that game.

“There are lots of tears, but this is for Anniston and Faith Christian,” McDaniel said as he held the red runnersup trophy. “These kids battled all season and we lost to THE best team in the state. We have hardware, it’s amazing.

“They have very good skill and they have very good skill at fast pace; they are unmatched in our state in that regard. We needed to be better doing what we do than what they do and we weren’t tonight.”

On the cover: Faith striker Tyler Johnson hugs teammate Ryan Crosby (2) after the Lions’ emotional 4-0 loss in the 1A-3A boys soccer title match.

Faith's Jordan Griswould holds off Westminster's Jared Keeler (3) as he prepares to play a ball in the air. (Photo by Tony Bedford)

Faith’s Jordan Griswould holds off Westminster’s Jared Keeler (3) as he prepares to play a ball in the air. (Photo by Tony Bedford)

Westminster-Oak Mountain 4, Faith Christian 0

Faith Christian 0 0 — 0
Westminster-OM 1 3 — 4

First half — Jack Stein, WOM 36:03.
Second half — Jared Keeler, WOM (Harrison Bruce) 42:43; Daniel Richardson, WOM (Jack Stein) 60:12; Nathan Richards, WOM 72:24.

Shots on goal — Faith Christian 2, Westminster 22. Corner kicks — Faith Christian 1, Westminster 10. Fouls — Faith Christian 5, Westminster 2.

Faith coach Erik McDaniel meets Jordon Griswould (1) and Logan Williamson as they come off the field at the end of Friday's 1A-3A state championship match. (Photo by Tony Bedford)

Faith coach Erik McDaniel meets Jordon Griswould (1) and Logan Williamson as they come off the field at the end of Friday’s 1A-3A state championship match. (Photo by Tony Bedford)

You must be logged in to post a comment Login