Luke Dendis, left, and Saul Morales run after the ball Tuesday during Ooltewah High School's soccer match against Coffee County Central High School in Ooltewah, Tenn. Ooltewah High School won the game. Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press
The only thing Coffee County’s late penalty kick did in Tuesday’s Region 3-AAA high school soccer semifinal at Ooltewah was spoil the shutout.
Chance Simmons’ goal in the waning minutes was insignificant after the Owls’ five-goal first half. Ooltewah advances to Thursday’s region-title match after its 7-1 victory.
Ooltewah (11-5-1) will host the winner between McMinn County and Cookeville in the region final. Both teams playing Thursday will advance to Saturday’s state sectionals, where region champions play at home.
The Owls have won 10 of their last 12, with the tie included, and are on a six-game winning streak. Coffee County’s goal was the second they’ve allowed in their last five matches.
Ooltewah neutralized District 6 player of the year Ricardo Ramirez by making him work just to get the ball. Coach Rick Adolph felt the strategy helped wear Ramirez down.
“We’re on a roll,” Adolph said. “It took us half the season to get going. We got some roles figured out, and all of them have taken responsibility for their individual roles like they needed to do.”
Losing Thomas Adolph, the coach’s son, to an ACL injury midway through the season was an obstacle that seems to have been overcome. Coach Adolph said Arnold Ayala, Arnold Monterroso and Philipp Varchmin have combined and filled in admirably at center midfield. He said the backs have been the stabilizing force in the strong defensive stretch, but it extends all the way to the forwards putting pressure on the ball.
“The defense has been a big part,” said Ooltewah junior keeper Hunter Rozzell, who had six saves. “The backs have done a great job. When the ball’s in the air, they’re not letting it go over their heads.
“My vision is the entire field. Everybody is dropping back and stepping to the ball. That’s why we’ve been so successful lately.”
As for the offense Tuesday, it took until the 13th minute to score, but by the 18th minute it was 3-0 on Callum Wishart’s second goal.
“I think just getting that first goal was it,” Adolph said. “Then I think we felt it was going to start falling for us.”
Felipe Munoz also had two goals, one in each half. Trey Tucker scored the second goal and Saul Morales had the last goal of the first half. Jacob Wakefield’s goal capped the scoring for the Owls.
Sean McLain paced Ooltewah with four assists. Warren Moody, Tucker and Wishart also had assists.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.