STOVER — A captivating season for Smithton soccer ended in the district championship match.
Father Tolton scored two goals in the second half of a 2-1 standing Thursday in the Class 1, District 4 Tournament final at Roy Poynter Field.
Tigers freshman Braedon Cairer thwarted a shutout result with 6 seconds remaining in regulation.
Smithton head coach Sean Hutchinson said he was proud of the team’s wire-to-wire effort.
“I think it speaks volumes of the team that down 2-0 in the final seconds, we didn’t give up,” Hutchinson. ”We gave it our all, and still got a goal.”
The Tigers (15-8-1) never lost two matches in a row, captured the Kaysinger Conference Tournament, played for a district title for the first time in 14 years and finished two matches short of its first state semifinals bid since 1986.
“It’s been a pretty good year,” Hutchinson said.
After out-shooting and generating more corner kicks than the Tigers in a scoreless first half, the Trailblazers (9-10) dominated midfield en route to a series of corners and a goal 2 minutes after halftime.
In the 55th minute, Smithton senior Leyton Shireman deflected a hot strike on a slide, but Tolton cleaned up the deflection to increase its lead to 2-0.
“He’s made some fantastic saves tonight and all season,” Hutchinson said of Shireman. “He just had a couple unlucky ones go in. … He’s been a great leader and a great player.”
Exclusively rostering returners from last season and a talented freshman, the Tigers will replace five seniors next year. Hutchinson, who coached the group since they were freshmen, said the class of 2020 left a lasting impression.
“All the seniors this year have put forth a lot of effort,” Hutchinson said. “As freshmen, I knew they were going to do something great. ... They left a great legacy for the future of Smithton soccer to uphold and beat sometime down the road.”
The Trailblazers (9-10) are scheduled to play the winner of the District 3 championship between Collegiate School of Med-Bio Science and Lutheran North.
Alex Agueros can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @abagueros2.