In Thursday’s regional final against Dobyns-Bennett at Kermit Tipton Stadium, Lich pulled the trigger two seconds quicker. Deflecting a late clearance by Tribe goalkeeper Jacob Park, Lich headed the ball into the net just 10 seconds into the contest, effectively putting the dagger in any hopes D-B had of pulling the upset.
“D-B played the ball back and it missed their center mids and went all the way to the goalie,” Lich said. “I don’t think he expected me to come that far forward.
“Scoring that quick took their drive away.”
The 3-0 regional win over the Indians earned Science Hill (21-1-0) the right to host Oak Ridge in Saturday’s TSSAA sectionals. D-B (17-5-0) must travel to Farragut that day following the Admirals’ 2-1 victory in the Region 2-AAA final.
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Saturday’s winners earn berths in next week’s TSSAA tournament in Murfreesboro.
Lich has been D-B’s nemesis in recent meetings. He scored the game-winner in the Hilltoppers’ 1-0 victory that clinched the regular-season title and had two assists in their 2-0 win in the District 1 championship game.
“I’m a right back in club ball but play some midfield in high school,” Lich noted. “It’s funny. I’ve never scored a goal that quick in a game and now it’s happened back to back.”
Defensively, Science Hill continued a very impressive run. The ’Toppers recorded their ninth consecutive shutout and their 13th in the past 14 games.
“Throughout the game we closed in our defense,” said Hilltoppers sophomore defender Griffin Kirby. “That forced them to come into our strength. I just think that in each game, we’ve been able to hurt them mentally.”
Elliot Fry added a goal in the 28th minute and Rob McDermott finished things off for Science Hill with a brilliant goal in the 53rd.
The gap between Science Hill and D-B on the soccer pitch continues to widen.
“Not one person on our roster played a good game out there tonight,” said frustrated Tribe coach Blake Rutherford. “We let them score that early and it changed everything we wanted to do tactically. We had to start chasing and that limited us.
“This performance was just not up to our standards,” he added. “Now we have to circle the wagons, get on a bus and travel on Saturday and try to salvage our season.”