As we continue to long for the Spring season that never was and hope for a Fall season to come, and as we prepare for tryouts, Crush would like to celebrate one of the biggest successes that Knoxville Football Club saw during the 2019 Fall season. We are honored to claim Boys D2 Tennessee State Champions, the Knoxville FC Crush 01/02 Premier Boys, as one of our own!
Last July Coach Kevin Cardona started with a group of 2001 and 2002 players that had played for different teams within Crush, some new-to-Crush players, and players returning to Crush after having played elsewhere in the Knoxville area. There was talent and enthusiasm on the team for sure, but soccer can be a cruel sport. There was no way to predetermine if the team would gel and experience success as they began their quest for a State Championship. One goal united the team however, and that was their desire to win a State Championship.
Division 2 in Tennessee rostered teams from across the entire state and due to the sheer number of teams registered, the state soccer association divided the state into two divisions: Eastern and Western. Teams were to play within their divisions to earn the rankings that would be used to qualify for the State Cup. Early in the season it was obvious that our 01/02 Premier boys were skilled and focused, and they quickly racked up a winning record. By mid-October the team had one state league game left to play. A win would secure a top seed at the State Cup and allow the team to end their regular season undefeated. Due to a rescheduled game date and a prior commitment, Coach Kevin was not able to attend. Coach Fabio Suarez stepped in while encouraging an injured 01/02 Premier player to assist him, helping to coach and motivate his teammates to the win. Undefeated season: check. Top seed for the State tournament: check.
Game 1 of the State Tournament had the 01/02 Premier Boys playing a quality team from Stones River who had finished their season with several well earned wins after a slow start. The game was back and forth and ended in a draw. Thanks to an amazing pair of goalkeepers, the 01/02 Premier boys secured the tough win and avoided a dreaded early exit. Hopes were high that the team could continue its run the next weekend and they did. A 4-0 semi-final win against All-in FC secured Crush’s place in the State Championship game. Not bad for a team of players thrown together just 4 months earlier, but they weren’t satisfied with just an appearance in the title game. The championship pitted Crush against a strong opponent from Dickson Futbol. The game was tight early on, but Crush was able to go up 3-1 and held on for the win. Undefeated season: check. Top seed for the State tournament: check. State Champions: check.
As with most teams, the players on the 01/02 team have seen their share of ups and downs: teammates leaving, coaching changes, and injuries. For the majority of the team this club season was their last. Some might call it a Cinderella season but to come together with a single purpose, and achieve what they set out to do was not just a fairy tale. Years of blood, sweat, tears, and dedication went into every practice and every game last fall. These players had a goal and they accomplished it. Congratulations to the Tennessee 2019 State Champions, our very own 2001/2002 Boys Premier!