CHATTANOOGA — A talented group of Tennessee and Georgia high school soccer players were presented with one last hoorah on the pitch before heading off in different directions.
The Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Classic boys soccer match was held at Finley Stadium Friday afternoon, where the Georgia all stars were able to narrowly defeat The Tennessee all stars 2-1.
A pair of familiar faces saw ample time on the field, with Cleveland’s Anfernee Avila and Moss Jones having been named to the roster.
The Raiders’ head coach John Brose was also named as one of the coaches for Tennessee alongside Ooltewah head coach Rick Adolph and thoroughly enjoyed getting the chance to coach two of his newly graduated soccer standouts for one final time.
“Everyone who played in the game was here because they had great careers. This was kind of just icing on the cake and something fun to be a part of to send them on their way one last time,” Brose declared. “I’m super proud of both Moss and Anfernee in how they played and glad I got to coach them this last time.”
The Tennessee team boasted players from schools such as Signal Mountain, Baylor and McMinn County, and knew that they faced a tough challenge in the Georgia all-stars.
Georgia’s roster was made up by players from Dalton, Northwest Whitfield Murray County and Coahulla Creek.
“They had great players with a lot of individual skill. We played a formation that I knew would give us some good defensive structure against their creative players but at the same time allowed us to counter attack and express ourselves a little offensively using the speed we had up front,” Brose explained.
Avila’s speed proved extremely beneficial to Tennessee early in the match.
In the 19th minute, Avila was able to get past a Georgia defender in the top of the box and take advantage of an out-of-position Georgia keeper.
While seeing Avila score was nothing new for Jones, it was still exciting enough to stand out from the rest of the match.
“My favorite moment was when Anfernee scored that goal, but I’m pretty used to that,” Jones joked.
For Cleveland’s leading goal scorer over the last two years, the formula for success is simple.
“For all the games I work hard, play hard, try to do my best and finish strong,” Avila explained.
Tennessee went into the half with a 1-0 lead, but Georgia’s Pedro Garcia, a striker from Coahulla Creek, was able to tie things up just three minutes into the second half.
The game winning goal came in the 69th minute.
After being denied by the crossbar twice in a row, Georgia’s Jose Ruiz, a midfielder from Murray County, was able to head the ball past the keeper.
Despite their best efforts in the remaining minutes, Tennessee was unable to break past Georgia’s defenders or keeper to tie things up.
“They had more chances than we did, but we had some good chances for sure,” Brose stated. “I was hoping we would get a few more set pieces down in that area to use some of our height, because we were definitely a bigger, more physical team than Georgia.”
The Tennessee all-stars finished the match out with about six shots on goal.
“We had our chances, they had some chances, but it just so happens that they put one more in the net than we did. It was one of those games,” Brose commented. “We played hard, and that’s all you can ask for. Going in we said that it was all about having fun and having a good experience. The guys most certainly did that.”