With their seasons on the line, Crossville’s high school soccer teams met in the District 6AA semifinals on Tuesday at Stone Memorial High School, where the No. 1 seeded Cumberland County Jets defeated the No. 4 Stone Memorial Panthers 4-2.
“I’m speechless,” said CCHS coach Cub Whitson following the game. “We knew how big this moment was, and our boys wanted it. I really don’t have many words to describe it other than elation.”
Cumberland County’s Aiden Zeino put on a spectacular performance, recording three goals for a hat trick in the victory.
“Aiden made big plays, recording a hat trick to send us to regions,” added Whitson.
It was CCHS’ Drew Davidson who put the first points on the board, scoring via penalty kick at the 33:26 mark of the first half.
The Jets grew their lead to 2-0 when Davidson assisted Zeino with 6:30 left until halftime.
Stone Memorial’s Stone Boston gave his team new life with a breakaway goal late in the first half to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Zeino wasted no time scoring his second goal of the day, finding the back of the net via assist from Nick Davidson to give CCHS a 3-1 lead going into halftime.
Out of the break, Stone Memorial’s Evan Brown brought the contest to within one goal, 3-2, via a spectacular shot from the corner that curved into the corner of the net.
With 5:43 remaining, Zeino completed the hat trick and shut the door on a Panther comeback with a goal from straight on to make the final score 4-2.
With the win, Cumberland County automatically advanced to the district championship game and Region 3AA semifinals for the first time in school history.
In order for Cumberland County to make history, they had to go through a familiar foe in Stone Memorial.
“It’s Stone,” said Whitson. “It’s always a rivalry. We got lucky and got that early PK. They just kept bringing it at us, but the boys responded well each time.”
The contest was the last one at Stone Memorial for head coach Michael Husbands, who will be moving to east Tennessee next season.
“I’m going to miss the rivalry with coach Husbands,” added Whitson. “He’s made me a better coach, and he’s made me push myself.”
The Jets were scheduled to face Livingston Academy in the championship game after the Wildcats defeated DeKalb County 1-0, weather permitting. Preparation for Thursday’s championship game was business as usual for CCHS.
“We had a mental practice Wednesday,” added Whitson. “We had a good gameplan against either team the first time we played them, so we won’t deviate from that too much there.”