Friday night’s playoff game against Columbia had a memorable start – two hours of lightning delays and a team dinner consisting of peanut butter crackers and bottled water. When they finally were cleared to go on the field, though, it was obvious that both teams were there to play their best games.
Columbia had the reputation of being big, fast, and physical, a Huntsville City School and the best team Elkmont would play all season. Elkmont has relied on its speed and finesse all season, but had become a more physical team as the year progressed.
Columbia was as advertised, scoring its first goal less than one minute into the game. But, Elkmont adjusted and Columbia quickly learned that Elkmont was not going to back down or go away. The Red Devils played just as physical as Columbia did, keeping Columbia knocked back on its heels during regulation.
Senior Daniel Marina scored on a free kick from close to midfield. Danny Valencia had two assists and one goal. Rafael Aguilar, normally a star on defense, scored the Elkmont’s third goal on a corner kick. Tee Boyd had twelve saves at goal. While not making his way into the stat book, Benton McNatt played his best game of the season and was all over the field.
With minutes to play, Elkmont led 3-2, but Columbia took advantage of the wet field and snuck in a goal at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. Tied 3-3 following two overtime periods, Columbia survived 8-6 in a penalty shoot-out, ending the Red Devils’ season.
The Kicking Red Devils accomplished a lot this season. They finished with a regular season record of 14-5-1. They were crowned Area Champs and narrowly lost in a playoff game on their home field. And, not only did they win, they won as a team, playing with an unmatched level of class and sportsmanship throughout the season.
This is a young team with a great chemistry, only losing one senior to graduation. Elkmont Soccer has a very bright future. Go Red Devils!