BY DAVE LINK
MURFEESBORO – Alcoa’s Bacon Lauderback hadn’t forgotten the disappointment he felt after losing in last year’s Class A state quarterfinal game.
Nor did his teammates.
They didn’t let it happen again Wednesday afternoon.
Laurderback scored a first-half goal and the Tornadoes added two more after halftime for a 3-0 victory over Hendersonville’s Merrol Hyde in the state semifinals at Siegel Soccer Complex.
Alcoa (15-9-2) got a first-round pass when Sheffield forfeited due to TSSAA rules for using an ineligible player in its state sectional game.
“It’s amazing,” Lauderback said. “We got a bye, but that doesn’t stop the feeling of excitement or the enjoyment of what I would say having a really handy win (against Merrol Hyde).
“Last year we got put out in the first round, so this win is even more incredible. Going from losing in the first round to the championship in one year is an unbelievable experience.”
Alcoa will play Jackson’s Madison Magnet (18-0-2) on Friday at 1:30 CT for the state championship.
Madison Magnet posted a 4-0 victory over defending state champion Gatlinburg-Pittman in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
“We’re not done yet. We’re not near done,” first-year Alcoa coach Andy Byrd said. “We’ve got 80 minutes to play on Friday. It’s been one of our goals to not only get to the state championship but to win it. We’ve been going since November. It’s been a great year. We’ve had a lot of growth.”
Byrd said the first-round forfeit had its pros and cons, the pros being the team had fresh legs.
“Yes, of course, but at the same time,” Byrd said, “you kind of get out of your groove, and they’ve got a game underneath them and that gives them a little confidence in this situation and this environment, but at the same time, I’d rather have the rest.”
Lauderback gave Alcoa a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute, heading a ball past goalkeeper Andrew Williamson after a corner kick by Andrew Knight.
“I just left my man early,” Lauderback said, “just one split second faster than him and just beat the keeper to the ball.”
Alcoa took the 1-0 lead into halftime, when it had 11 shots to Merrol Hyde’s three.
The Tornadoes finished with 20 shots to Merrol Hyde’s six.
“I won’t say we overlooked this team today,” Byrd said, “but they survived an early barrage. We kind of put our heads down and knew we had to outwork them, and we did. It just took us a little bit, and we had to overcome some adversity with some hustle plays.”
Leonardo Santos made it 2-0 when he scored an unassisted goal in the 53rd minute.
Luis Gonzalez scored in the 70th minute for a 3-0 lead.
Byrd expects a stern test in the championship from Madison Magnet.
“We came up and watched them yesterday and it’s a quality side,” Byrd said. “They’ve got some good players and I think No. 26, the (Donovan) Pruitte kid, is a goal scorer. It’s going to be hard to contain him. They’re a solid team. I look forward to taking a run at them.”
G-P’S SCHRANDT IS RESIGNING
He knew. His friends knew. Even his players knew.
Gatlinburg-Pittman’s Zach Schrandt didn’t publicly resign as its boys coach until after the Highlanders loss to Madison Magnet.
He was the Highlanders’ coach for 12 years.
“It’s been one heck of a ride, and it’s time to spend time with my wife and my kids,” Schrandt said.
Schrandt and his wife, Fallon, have two children, 2 and 5.
“To do it the way we’ve done it for five years,” Schrandt said, “it takes a toll on everyone, our program, my wife, my kids. My wife to allow me to do it the way I’ve done it especially the last five years, all in for the kids, you can’t ask for more.
“It’s hard with a 5-year-old. He’s sad, (saying), ‘Daddy, when will you be back?’ because it’s every other night you’re gone, and you don’t see him till breakfast because he’s already in bed when you get home.”
G-P fell behind in the first half against Madison Magnet and didn’t recover.
Madison Magnet had 10 shots to G-P’s seven shots.
Kyle North scored in the eighth minute for a 1-0 lead and added another goal in the 21st minute.
It was 2-0 at halftime.
“We’re going against the No. 1 ranked team in the state,” Schrandt said. “It was a tough draw, kind of like what Bearden got, and we’d had a tough game yesterday. We had moments in this game to have won it, but at this level, you can’t miss (shots).”
Pruitte scored in the 67th minute for a 3-0 lead.
Jack Young scored the fourth goal in the 72nd minute.
Schrandt said an emotional farewell to his players after the match.
G-P won state championships last year and in 2018 and had runner-up finishes in 2019 and ‘’21.
“It’s not the coach,” Schrandt said. “It’s a will to win. It’s the players. I’ve never played one minute in any game. I try to give them belief in themselves and we try to have some tactics, but at the end of the day, the kids are what built this program and the kids are what will sustain it.”