HomeNewsMadison soccer's championship result of work in all aspects of game

Madison soccer’s championship result of work in all aspects of game

Madison’s boys’ soccer team found itself in a situation it was familiar with on Friday in the Class A state championship game.

After playing through regulation and a pair of overtime periods in a tie with Alcoa, the Mustangs needed to win in penalty kicks to claim the program’s first-ever state championship.

The team did that, hitting every one of its first four of its kicks while goalkeeper Roy Macias kept two of Alcoa’s shots out of the net.

Kyle Korth’s kick on Madison’s fourth attempt was the shot that sealed the win and the championship for Madison.

 The victory and the way the Mustangs won was a testament to the hard work and the adjustments they made in the aftermath of the loss a year before, said head coach Igor Luczensky.

“After that loss, when we came back and began work for this season, we definitely looked at that loss to Gatlinburg-Pittman as motivation to improve in every aspect of the team – fitness, offense, defense, passing … everything,” Luczensky said. “And the guys really worked hard all season to be the best we could be at everything.”

That commitment to improvement was evident at the fact the Mustangs made it through the regular season with no losses and a pair of ties.

“We tried to make our non-district schedule as tough as possible,” Luczensky said. “Playing teams like Bartlett and Houston exposes our players to strategies that we may not see during the regular season otherwise, so it gives us a chance to really see different things and be ready for anything we might face in the postseason.”

The Mustangs made it through their district and region tournaments easily, outscoring Scotts Hill and Loretto – their region opponents – by a combined score of 17-1.

They followed that an 8-0 win in sectionals over Republic High from Nashville to get to the state tournament, a game in which senior Donovan Pruitte scored the 100th goal of his three-year high school career.

“We committed to improving in all aspects of the game, and the guys did that all year,” Luczensky said. “And they treated each game in the postseason like it was the state championship, and there was no let-up.

“And a lot of those lop-sided scores were helped by our fitness. When other teams were getting tired and slowing down in the second half, our conditioning kicked in and helped us get to the ball faster and get more shots.”

The Mustangs opened the state tournament with a 5-0 win over McKenzie. The next day, they defeated Gatlinburg-Pittman – the team that beat them in the championship a year before – 4-0.

“Gatlinburg and we both had lost a couple of starters off those teams that played in the championship last year, but I think the scoring turnaround showed how hard our guys worked chasing the championship all year,” Luczensky said.

Then came the championship. The team had a day of rest between the semifinals and championship. And Luczensky said he felt good going into the finals because his team’s starters got to rest some in the second half of the first two games because of their large leads.

“Last year we played the three best teams in the tournament, and all of them were hard fought wins,” Luczensky said “So we were drained going into the championship.

“We were able to avoid that situation this year and get the starters some rest on Tuesday and Wednesday.”

Alcoa scored first in the first half before Madison scored twice with a couple of goals by Pruitte to take the lead 2-1. The Mustangs would hold that lead until Alcoa tied with two minutes remaining.

Neither team scored in either overtime, pushing the game to the penalty kicks.

“I admit last year I didn’t work much on PKs because there’s not a lot of opportunities to have them in the regular season,” Luczensky said. “But we worked a fair amount on them this season, and that paid off as that was another aspect of the game we wanted to improve in.”

Pruitte and Korth are part of a five-member senior class, who entered the program with Luczensky. The other three members are Braden Nye, Majdi Dardas and Steven Pontjek.

“I already knew all those guys from coaching them in club ball growing up, but they’ve worked hard all three years I’ve been here and put the team on their back this year to get them as far as they went,” Luczensky said. “They’ve worked hard for everything they’ve accomplished and were great role models for the guys coming up who will try to keep pushing after them.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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