MURFREESBORO – Father Ryan’s boys soccer team did its best to survive Wave after Wave Friday afternoon in the Division II-AA state soccer final against Christian Brothers.
But while the Fighting Irish showed lots of character, CBHS had Devin Character.
Character, a senior forward, scored 2½ minutes into the second half as the Purple Wave beat Ryan 1-0 in the Division II-Class AA state championship match at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex.
It was the seventh state title for CBHS, but the first in six years. The Purple Wave had three-peats from 1990-92 and 2001-03. Father Ryan was denied a repeat as a state champ after beating CBHS 2-1 in last year’s title match.
With the ball bouncing in front of the Ryan goal, Character finally pushed it past Ryan goalkeeper Matthew Warrick for the only goal of the match.
“We had a free kick and I just went for the ball and we had it go in,” Character said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. … Once we got the goal, I knew we were going let anything go in.”
Ryan, which won the title last year, finished 12-3-1.
“They had a little luck,” Ryan senior forward Jonah Powers-Myszka said. “But I know a lot of guys on their team – they’re good friends of mine. And I can honestly say I’m happy for them.”
Before the loss, Father Ryan’s only blemishes on its record were 2-1 losses to Briarcrest Christian and Knoxville Webb and a scoreless tie against Pope John Paul II. The Irish beat PJP in Thursday’s semifinal, with Michael Arnold’s penalty kick with eight minutes left being the only goal.
The only in-state foe CBHS had lost to was Oak Ridge. The Purple Wave fell to schools from Oklahoma and South Carolina and also tied Cleveland, which was unbeaten until losing in a Class AAA quarterfinal this week.
Given the power on the field, Ryan coach Robin Dieterich said he was surprised only one goal won the game.
“They’re a good bunch,” he said. “You know when you play them, you’re going to be playing a talented, well-coached team.