In order for Johnson High boys soccer team to secure a second state title in school history, it would need some defense and a flawless game.
Unfortunately, things did not go their way as the Class 5A state championship slipped from the Knights grasp as McIntosh picked up a 2-1 victory on Thursday night at McEachern High.
This was Johnson’s fourth finals appearance in eight seasons. However, the players and coaches were only concerned about what just happened on the pitch.
“It is a great accomplish for this team, to make it to this point,” Johnson coach Frank Zamora said. “We played a very good team. Things didn’t come out our way. You get to this point, anything can happen.”
Things happened rather quickly against Johnson. The game was tied and time was running down for both teams. Some were preparing for extra session as the game was tied 1-1.
Macintosh had other plans.
Dru Stanton nailed a cross from the right side of the field to the outside goal post. There were a slew of players crowding the area. Knights’ goalie Steven Flores attempted to deflect the ball. However, the ball just sailed above his outstretched arms. This is when Jackson Johnson headed the ball into the back of the net for McIntosh’s game-winner with 1:17 to play in he game.
The Chiefs faithful went into a frenzy, while the Johnson fans who made the trip from Northeast Georgia were silent.
Johnson tried to push the ball forward after going down a point, in an attempt to tie the game, but there was not enough time.
“I noticed we started getting really tired,” senior Eliam Chavez said. “I am still proud of the effort we put in the entire game.”
“That’s typically what they’re going to do,” Zamora added. “They’re going to pack the box. Unfortunately, for us, it worked for them.”
The Knights battled through a variety of adverse moments.
Some was just the physicality of the game. Others dealt with trying to overcome missed opportunities.
Johnson scored the first goal of the game when Abraham Gomez drilled a shot to the back of the net at the 28h minute to open the game. Both teams then tightened up the defense.
Macintosh found a gap in the Knights defense to tie the game when Peter Millians scored off a free kick.
At this point, the Johnson staff was encouraged the players to continue playing. There was plenty of time to get more scoring opportunities. The Knights just needed to keep pushing.
However, the moments did not really come in the end.
The final buzzer sounded. McIntosh celebrated while Johnson was awarded the runner-up trophy. Zamora took his team to the far corner of the field. The Knights’ staff dispensed words of encouragement to a somber group, while the Knights community waited to embrace he team.
“The boys are disappointed and hurting,” Zamora said. “They’re going to be back. The experienced they gained through this playoff run will be the fuel and fire to come back.”