By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Brighton Cardinals were forced to watch one of the best soccer teams in Tipton County history celebrate on it’s home field in the 2014 District 13-3A Soccer Tournament final.
The loaded Munford Cougars survived a shootout to beat Brighton in the title game held on the Munford Soccer Field. The Cougars went into full celebration mode with a squad featuring mostly seniors.
The youthful Cardinals held their heads high and took mental notes of the moment.
“We grew and it gave us that much more momentum to come back this year and just be determined to get to where we are,” Brighton captain Austin Chapman said. “And finish it this year, we just didn’t want to get back to this point.”
The Cardinals took care of business last Thursday on their home field in the 2015 District 13-3A Soccer Tournament championship game beating Dyer County 2-0. Chapman said it took a total team effort to achieve their goal of capturing the district tournament title.
“Everybody, this year we increased our team so we could step it up in practice, be competitive at a higher level,” he noted. “And it has shown out there on the field because when you’re more competitive playing against better people it shows in the games.”
The game against the Choctaws was the finish line for Brighton’s three-year chase for the championship.
Head Coach Bubba Chambers’ Cardinals used defense sparked by players like Welton DeGraffreed and Justin Krachen kept Dyer County scoreless throughout the night.
Brighton received a pair of goals from Chapman. The Cardinals jumped ahead 1-0 about 13 minutes into the game when Chapman connected on a short blast past Dyer County goalie Ryan Incrocci.
But Incrocci proved why he was named to the All-District team throughout the first half making leaping and diving saves. Incrocci even stopped a penalty kick by DeGraffreed right before the halftime break.
The Cardinals got some insurance courtesy of Chapman in the second half with a goal at the 22:28 mark.
“These boys right here have worked their tails off,” Chambers said. “And that game right there made them even stronger in working their tails off coming into this year. This was our goal for three seasons. I’ve been here three seasons and this was our goal. We built it every season up to now. I couldn’t be prouder of them. This is amazing.”
DeGraffreed noted the defense’s highlights in the championship game helping to set up the pair of goals from Chapman.
“That defense, stellar group back to front,” he said. “We’re always digging in.”
Chambers said growing from the heartbreak of a year ago, all his players dug in as a cohesive unit.
“This team is the word — team,” he said. “We do not take individual play at all. I’ve had players come to me and say, ‘Coach I’m nicked up. I’ll be better if I play here.’ They don’t look at individual. They do what is best for the team.
“That’s the way they’ve gone every year,” Chambers concluded. “But this is the year they meshed. They love each other and they play for each other. That’s what they care about, each other and the team.”