It wasn’t Cherokee’s best day going up against Highlands varsity soccer team and letting nine shots slip through to the net on Monday. The referees called it with 22 minutes left in the game and Highlands players felt good knowing they pulled off a win on Senior Night.
“It’s sad being Senior Night, but it’s a new beginning,” said senior Jared Shearl. “I’ve known these guys my whole life and then to end on a win like this, it’s kind of sad knowing soon I won’t see these guys every day.”
Senior Jake Billingsley said they played a great game by connecting passes, playing as a team and getting the ball from the outside into the middle when they needed to.
“It’s a great win, but it’s bittersweet,” said Billingsley. “I feel like we’re leaving a lasting mark. I’m looking forward to basketball season.”
At one point Jonathan “Bill” Miller was racing the goalie for the ball, players started slipping and sliding and things escalated, but Miller kept his cool and put one in the goal.
“I was thinking, it’s done, the keeper’s going to get the ball,” said Miller. “But then he missed it and I just said ‘Bill stay calm,’ then I just placed it in, it was easy.”
Sophomore Garrison Chalker said they just did what they had to do to score a victory.
“We moved the ball around a lot, we had good communication, that’s pretty much all we needed,” said Chalker. “It feels good because it’s a special night and the seniors deserve it.”
Freshman striker Brent Sleight spent much of the game in a full sprint towards Cherokee’s goal. He said Highlands played hard, switched the ball well and got the crosses in to put up points on the board. Despite the fine gameplay, Sleight said the seniors will be missed.
“I’m happy for them, but I don’t want them to leave,” said Sleight. “They’re all my brothers and it’s hard to see them go.”
Highlands Head Coach Brett Lamb said his players did what they were trained to do and got the job done.
“A lot of these kids have played for four years and it shows out on the field,” said Lamb.
Even though nine seniors are moving onto other endeavors, Lamb said the team should be in good shape next season.
“We have a really good bunch,” he said. “These young kids have gotten some good playing time and now it’s time for them to step up their role.”
Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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