Article Written by Sheldon Shealer
Published: March 20, 2018
After back-to-back second-place finishes, McCallie won the 2018 Smoky Mountain Cup top flight title.
GATLINBURG, Tenn. -- McCallie School
(Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Tulsa Union
(Tulsa, Okla.) had more in common than just 3-0 showings at the Smoky Mountain Cup over the weekend.
Both coaches were quick to point to team depth and emerging stars for the successful weekend.
Depth certainly played a pivotal role as teams played three matches in 37 hours. Both teams played matches earlier in the week before the SMC. In addition, Tulsa Union's circuitous bus ride to Gatlinburg took 19 hours. [The team made it home in 11.]
"Those are some tired [players]," Union coach Michael Wilson said upon returning to Tulsa on Sunday night.
McCallie School, ranked No. 3 in last week's FAB 50, capped the weekend with an authoritative 4-0 thrashing of FAB 50 No. 1 Station Camp
(Gallatin, Tenn.), which had the second-longest active undefeated streak among spring team teams entering the weekend. McCallie and Station Camp both are defending state champions.
"We played with great energy and pressed effectively," McCallie coach Chris Cushenbery said. "We really controlled the game."
As for the result, "This feels very validating," Cushenbery added. McCallie had finished second in group play at the last two Smoky Mountain Cup events.
made it a boys-girls sweep as the girls program went 3-0 to win the eight-team high school girls varsity division.
(Falls Church, Va.), McGill-Toolen
(Mobile, Ala.) and Ravenwood
(Brentwood, Tenn.) won the third through fifth division boys titles. The other nine divisions were almost exclusively comprised of Tennessee programs, and those champions were Lausanne Collegiate School, Franklin County, Sevier County, Morristown-West, University School of Jackson, Seymour, Chuckey-Doak, The King's Academy and Northview Academy.
A bit of the edge of a FAB 50 No. 1 vs. No. 3 showdown on Sunday was removed when then top-ranked Station Camp played to a scoreless draw with J.L. Mann
(Greenville, S.C.) in the opening match. That result left Station Camp as a lame duck No. 1 for the balance of the event. Still, McCallie and Station Camp entered the match with undefeated overall records.
Ben Brock gave McCallie an early lead, his fourth goal of the tournament. Freshman Ramzy Maraqa contributed two assists. Jordan Morris, Jonathan Richardson and Andre Roberts added the other goals for McCallie. A day earlier, Ryan Rogers had a game-tying goal then assisted the game-winner in McCallie's 3-1 victory over J.L. Mann. In the opener, McCallie overwhelmed Fort Gibson (Okla.) 4-0 behind a Jordan Morris hat trick. Sophomore Wright Self had three assists, two to Morris. McCallie outsored its opponents 11-1 and Jonah Bryan
, who is mulling over Division I offers, was the star of the back line and even served up an assist.
"Our depth ... we had a lot of guys who can contribute," Cushenbery said of what made the difference in the team's performance. "Our motto this year is 'Overwhelm them with our brotherhood.' Play hard, play fast."
For Tulsa Union, Ruben Carrasco had a hat trick during an 8-0 win over Davidson
(Mobile, Ala.), scored one goal in the team's 6-0 thrashing of Father Ryan
(Nashville, Tenn.) and added a goal in the 3-2 win over Farragut
(Knoxville, Tenn.). Ruben Torres and Eddie Hunt finished the event with three goals each. Nine players scored Tulsa Union's 17 goals at the event.
Wilson, a recent college head coach who arrived in Tulsa to launch the city's WPSL team, is in his first year as head coach at Tulsa Union. Interestingly, the only other year he coached high school soccer, he guided a team to an undefeated, state title-winning season.
"(In previous years) Union focused on getting the ball to the main players and let them do the work," Wilson said. "We want to spread it around so everyone gets a chance to see how good they can be."
While winning was important, Wilson said the trip to Gatlinburg allowed the team to develop chemistry.