By Michael Lindsay
For the first time in program history, the DeKalb County Tigers are Region 3/AA boys soccer champions following Thursday’s 2-0 victory at Cumberland County.
“It’s been a lot of work for a long time,” said DeKalb head coach Dylan Kleparek. “I’m so proud of these guys; they’ve put the time and effort in for years, and to get it is sweet. It’s the first time we’ve been this far as a team.”
Standing in the way for DeKalb County was a familiar foe in Cumberland County, who had won 10 straight games over the Tigers including 3 this season.
“These seniors had not beaten Cumberland County,” Kleparek said. “The first time we played them this season, I’ll be honest; we were intimated. It seems like we kind of got over that and started playing like we should. We played well and like we were ready.
“Give all the credit to Cub and his group; they’re fantastic,” Kleparek added. “They’ve been our kryptonite because they’ve got good coaching and they play hard.”
DeKalb County struck early as Miguel Mada scored via a Brandon Silva assist with 31:27 remaining in the first half to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Mada found the back of the net again with 19:26 left in the opening half off an assist from Yair Mada to give DeKalb County a 2-0 advantage.
“We practiced to work that right side and come in that gap,” Kleparek said. “The execution was there, and we made that extra touch and run to be there. Playing against a team like this, sometimes you can question whether or not to put yourself out there and take a chance. We did it and got those goals, then we played smart.”
DeKalb County’s 2-0 lead stood for the rest of the contest as they shut out Cumberland County behind an 8-save effort from keeper Connor Vance.
“The defensive effort, especially in the second half, was bend-don’t-break,” Kleparek said. “They executed really well. Cumberland County always seems to find that goal somehow, and to not let that happen will go a long way.”
Thursday’s win sets up a Class 2A sectional matchup with East Hamilton Saturday in Smithville with a state tournament berth on the line.
“We’re calling for all of the DCHS soccer family to come out on Saturday and support the team,” Kleparek said. “We have great fans and community support. It starts with our rec league and builds through our middle school. I’m so proud of that in our community; we have a pretty small town, and to get that kind of support is fantastic. This is more than just parents; this is kids driving up here and teachers coming up here just to support the kids. We have a great group of guys, and people want to support them.”
East Hamilton at DeKalb County will be played on Saturday, time TBD. Cumberland County will travel to Signal Mountain Saturday afternoon as well.
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