For the second year in a row, the Oak Ridge Wildcats were undefeated in the district in regular season soccer games. It’s the third time in the past four years that the Wildcats were undefeated in District 3-AAA during the regular season.
But the regular season isn’t over yet. Oak Ridge (11-5, 7-0) has two non-district games remaining, one against Maryville at home tonight (Tuesday, May 3) and the second at Farragut on Thursday, May 5.
Players and Oak Ridge Coach Jeff Trombly have said those final two games are a good prelude to the competition that the Wildcats could face in the post-season, particularly the Region 2-AAA tournament.
Oak Ridge got its seventh district win this year at home against Clinton (6-4, 1-1) on Friday, April 29. The Wildcats outshot the Dragons 36-3 in that 3-0 win.
The score might have been more lopsided, but Clinton goalkeeper Jordan Nichols had a great night, making several saves on Oak Ridge shots and headers right in front of the net.
Oak Ridge senior forward Matt Warmbrod picked up two of the Wildcats’ goals, and senior Blake Clowers kicked in the shot that led to the third goal.
Warmbrod scored the first goal in the 29th minute after junior midfielder Noah Calhoun brought the ball down the right side of the field and passed it into the center. Clinton defenders tried to clear it, but Warmbrod was able to drill the ball into the right side of the net from the left-center of the field.
Warmbrod scored again in the second half, in the 50th minute, heading the ball into the net off a free kick by senior Jose Rodriguez near the left sideline.
The Wildcats’ final goal was in the 68th minute. Rodriguez had back-to-back shots into Nichols in front of the net and the ball bounced out some 20 yards, where Clowers kicked it into the right side of the net. The shot appeared to catch Nichols by surprise, and Trombly said it deflected into the net off a Clinton defender.
Trombly said the Dragons kept many players behind the ball on Friday, making it difficult for Oak Ridge to attack. But that strategy doesn’t work very well once a team gets behind, Trombly said. It can work if a team has a fast forward, he said.
Oak Ridge has won nine games straight. Four of their five losses earlier this season were to out-of-state teams. The one in-state loss was to Bearden on March 29.
Asked about his two-goal performance on Friday, Warmbrod said he scored three in a 4-2 win over Dorman (South Carolina) in the Smoky Mountain Cup on April 2.
“As a whole unit, we’re starting to mesh together better and connect as a unit,” Warmbrod said.
It’s a good time to do that, with the District 3-AAA tournament coming up, Warmbrod said.
“We just have to be sure we stay consistent, keep up the pressure,” and play well, he said.
Today’s game against Maryville (8-4-2, 4-1-1 District 4-AAA) starts at 7 p.m. at Oak Ridge High School.
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