MURFREESBORO — Arguably the best season in Sweetwater soccer history came to a disappointing end on Tuesday, May 21.
In the Wildcats’ first ever state soccer tournament appearance, Sweetwater faced Franklin Grace Christian Academy, which stifled the Wildcats with its speed and aggressive attack. The Lions defeated Sweetwater 9-0 in a mercy-rule outcome, eliminating the Wildcats in the state quarterfinal match played at Siegel Soccer Park in Murfreesboro.
But that didn’t deaden Sweetwater’s view of what this season has meant to the program.
“We didn’t expect that score today,” Sweetwater head coach Ricardo Torres said. “But, as I said (to) the kids, all you have to do, all you really can do with this game, is just learn and keep improving. First time here (in the state tournament), I think it’s a good step for us.”
The Lions scored seven goals in the first half and two more early in the second before the match was called, while Sweetwater was held scoreless. Jonathan Cano, Diego Lopez and Alan Lopez all had shots on goal and Wildcats goalkeeper Jaxon Marlow notched two saves.
Torres was proud of the accomplishments that got the Wildcats to this point, though. Sweetwater won both its district and region and finished with a 17-4 record to go along with the program’s first ever state tournament appearance.
“All I can say is I’m happy for whatever they did,” Torres said. “It’s just very hard to face a team like (Franklin Grace), but we just need to focus on whatever we want to for next year, develop a little more some players …”
And the support will surely be there, as well.
Following the match, the Sweetwater faithful, including school personnel, parents, fans and friends, cheered for the Wildcats as they left the field for the last time in 2019, even taking a group picture of the team and everyone from Sweetwater that came out to support it.
The Wildcats will lose seniors Juventino Guzman, Clay Torres, Diego Frutos, Eduardo Vasquez and Sebastian Mora to graduation, a veteran group that helped lead the team to its farthest point ever in the postseason.
Torres could pat himself on the back, too; he led the Wildcats to such a historic season in just his first year as head coach of the team. Plus, it wasn’t exactly something that he expected to happen this fast.
“Actually, one of the players that we have that played four years, he always said, ‘We (will) go to state before I leave this school,’” Torres said. “I didn’t expect to come to the state (tournament) (this early), but because (of) the response that they give me, I think that’s how (we got) here. And for the young players, I think they’re lucky, just that they’re this year that good.
“So I think that’s a very good challenge for them. They know that they can get back here next year.”
Franklin Grace (20-2-2) defeated Signal Mountain 2-1 in the state semifinals and claimed the Division 1 Class A state soccer championship with a 4-1 victory over defending state champ Gatlinburg-Pittman.