The Oak Ridge Wildcats, who remain undefeated in the district, had two good wins last week against Hardin Valley and Karns. They have one district game remaining; that’s against Clinton at home on Friday, which is Senior Night.
As the regular season comes to an end, the Wildcats (10-5, 7-0 District 3-AAA) also still face Maryville and Farragut. Both games are expected to be challenging.
The Oak Ridge-Hardin Valley game on Tuesday, April 19, was very tough, Coach Jeff Trombly said. Senior goalkeeper Joel Turner went out with a concussion in the first half after being kicked in the head, and he can’t play for at least two weeks, Trombly said.
Sophomore Austyn Lincoln, the backup goalkeeper, finished that 2-0 win for the Wildcats.
Oak Ridge scored in the second half at Hardin Valley (3-5-1, 1-1-1 District 4-AAA) when Blake Clowers kicked in a rebound off a penalty kick, Trombly said. Junior midfielder Brent Robinson scored the second goal with an assist by senior forward Jose Rodriguez.
“We haven’t beat them for several years,” Trombly said. Hardin Valley Academy was the Region 2-AAA champion last year and a state qualifier.
“We’re playing well,” Trombly said. “We’re peaking right now.”
But the Wildcats haven’t had their starting 11 players for more than half a game, Trombly said. Clowers, who has been out since the beginning of the season, had just come back in when Turner was hurt.
On Thursday against Karns (1-7-1, 1-5 District 3-AAA), junior defender Stefan Mortl was injured and had to have a few stitches.
Oak Ridge outshot the Beavers 29-6.
Rodriguez scored first in the sixth minute. He helped on the second goal 31 minutes later, dribbling through multiple defenders after a feed from senior forward Matt Warmbrod and passing the ball from left to right across the front of the net to junior Masa Kato, who drove it into the wide-open right side of the net.
The Wildcats were ahead 2-0 at halftime, with a shot ratio of 13-4.
Rodriguez scored again early in the second half on a feed up the left side of the field from Warmbrod, kicking the ball into the right side of the net in the 43rd minute.
Clowers scored on a penalty kick in the 53rd minute after Rodriguez was tripped, kicking the ball into the left side of the net when the Karns goalkeeper dove to the right. The score was 4-0.
Rodriguez, who finished with three goals, scored again on a breakaway in the 74th minute, and Jonas Grayson had the final goal, booting the ball in from just outside the left upright.
Lincoln, the backup goalkeeper, had a crucial save for Oak Ridge, diving to his right to stop a penalty kick by Karns.
“This was good for Lincoln,” Trombly said.
Asked about the season so far, Rodriguez said the Wildcats had open positions to start this year because of the seniors who graduated last year, but he thinks Oak Ridge figured out how to play together when they played Hardin Valley.
But, “we still haven’t played our best game,” Rodriguez said. He said the upcoming Maryville and Farragut games will give Oak Ridge a sense of what the competition will be like in the playoffs.
“That’s the competition we’ll be playing in region,” Rodriguez said.
He said Oak Ridge needs to focus on its chemistry and how to take advantage the talents of each player.
The Friday game against Clinton (6-3, 1-1) starts at 7 p.m. at Oak Ridge High School.
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