BY DAVE LINK
MURFREESBORO – Miguel Marquez made a historic goal for Sevier County soccer Friday afternoon.
The junior forward scored with 15 seconds left and gave the Smoky Bears a 1-0 victory over Page in the Class AA state championship match at Siegel Soccer Complex.
“I just ran and shot the ball, and it went in,” Marquez said. “I’m just so happy I got the goal.”
Sevier County (21-1-3) won the first state soccer championship in school history in just its second appearance at state.
The Smoky Bears lost to Greeneville 2-1 in the 2019 state championship.
“We’ve been saying for two years, ‘One more,’” Sevier County coach Tim Bohanan said. “It started in 2018, we came up one short of making it to the state tournament. In 2019, we got to the state tournament. We came up one goal short in the final game (against Greeneville), and we said, ‘One more.’ Every day at practice, we finish our breakdown in our huddle with, ‘One more.’ No different today. We said that. That’s what we said right there on that (TSSAA) logo, we said, ‘One more.’ And today we did it.”
Marquez’s dramatic goal in the closing seconds was set up with a cross by Joseph Rodriguez near the out-of-bounds line beside the Page goal.
Rodriguez crossed the ball back in front of the goal. Page keeper John Gorman knocked the cross out of the box but fell down, and Marquez was there to drill it in from about 25 yards in front of the goal.
“Joseph drove it deep and played it in,” Bohanan said. “The keeper made a great play and Miguel was just playing it right there. We’ve been working on that a little bit and Miguel knew he needed to be there. He had one in the first half off a corner at the top. He was ready for it and didn’t quite get the hit on it he wanted, but this time, he did.”
Page (19-2-2) finished with 11 shots to Sevier County’s eight.
Gorman had two saves, and Sevier County senior Tanner Dunston had six saves.
With time running out, most everyone was thinking about overtime and a potential shootout.
And then Marquez scored.
“I have to be honest, I got a little nervous,” Bohanan said. “We started getting late in the game and thinking it may get there (to overtime). I knew there had been (an overtime) earlier today and several overtime games throughout the tournament. Again, we thought if it did, then it’s OK. We know that we’ve got to play 90 minutes or 100 minutes, but we knew we had to play to whenever that last whistle came. Those kids, they came through for us time and time again this season, and none bigger than today.”
Bohanan called his team “a big family.” The players have dinner with the Bohanan family every Wednesday during the season.
“That’s a dream come true for me,” Bohanan said. “I don’t know that anything can top that in coaching, ever. Just to see the looks on those kids faces and to see them get the reward that they deserve for the work that they’ve put in, not just this year, but the year before and the year before and the year before.
“These seniors that have been with us for four years and to accomplish what they accomplished, these young guys that have stepped in, we had so many new guys step into new roles this year, and to fight from the opening whistle to the last whistle and never give up is a true testament to these kids.”
Senior team captain Colby Huffman, a holding midfielder, has been a member of the team since his freshman year.
“It’s a big thing for our school,” Huffman said. “We did it as a team. From my sophomore year, we started a saying, ‘We are one team and we have one goal and it is one more.’ This was our one goal and we got this last one, and we finished it out finally.”
It was a finish Sevier County will not forget.
“Those kids have the most heart of any group of kids I’ve ever seen in my life,” Bohanan said. “There is no quit in those kids. They never gave up. They believed from the opening until the end. We told them before this game started, ‘It had to be from the opening whistle to the last whistle, all 80 minutes,’ and they brought it today. And I’m so proud of those kids. Those kids deserve everything in this world.”