CHATTANOOGA — McMinn Central lost a slugfest 1-0 in the final few minutes of play on Thursday in the District 7-AA championship at East Hamilton.
The Lady Hurricanes scored in the final three minutes to come away with the win. Central Coach Travis Tuggle compared the match to a heavyweight fight.
“It was a back and forth, physical slugfest,” Tuggle said. “I’m proud of my girls, especially defensively. I think it is one of the best games they have played all year. They played hard and even in the last three minutes after they scored we had our chances. It just happens that way sometimes, but I am proud of them.”
Central will now travel to East Ridge in the Region 4-A semifinals on Tuesday. If the Chargerettes win on Tuesday they would play the winner of the Hixson and East Hamilton semi for the region title.
The game started poorly for Central early as East Hamilton had the ball on Central’s half of the field for the first 15 minutes.
“Then something just clicked,” Tuggle said. “We flooded forward. We connected passes and played really well. It just went back and forth from there.”
Central had disaster strike with 9:50 left to play. The Chargerettes already had to sub out one defender due to an injured ankle and then Gracelyn Smith injured her leg on an East Hamilton free kick. She was down for 20 minutes and an ambulance was called as it was thought her leg might be broken.
Fortunately, as the team found out later in the night, her leg is not fractured. But her sister, Caitlyn, understandably wanted to go to the hospital to comfort her. That meant the Chargerettes were down three defenders.
Playing with an altered defense the Chargerettes still held East Hamilton out of goal until about three minutes to play. There was a scramble in front of the net and Central didn’t close down on the ball fast enough and the Lady Hurricanes scored to go up 1-0.
Even in the final three minutes Central had scoring chances, but a pair of crosses were blocked.
Central fired off six shots compared to East Hamilton’s 17. The Lady Hurricanes had five corner kicks and Central had just one. Central goalie Stonie Fox made 13 saves.