By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In two games, both teams won a game scoring a total of 3 goals.
Last Thursday was time for the Brighton Cardinals and the Munford Cougars to settle the score. The 80 minutes of regulation wasn’t enough time. In overtime, the Cougars prevailed 1-0 to win the 2016 District 13-3A Tournament championship.
“We’re district champs,” Munford senior captain Dalton McCann said. “I’m happy about that but this doesn’t mean it’s over. It’s on to Regionals and hopefully Sectionals and then State.”
The victory sent the Cougars into this week’s Regional Tournament as a No. 1 seed and the Cardinals were a No. 2 seed heading into the Region 7-3A Tournament.
The Munford game-winning goal came at the 8 minute- 1 second-mark of the first overtime period by Wilmer Martinez. The defense of Cougars like Juan Pena, Max Sneed, Brady Tiner, Dalton McCann and Robert Savage helped Munford keep the Cardinals scoreless.
“Nobody really counted us into this game at the beginning of the season,” first-year Munford Head Coach Dylan Burnett said. “We were inexperienced and nobody thought we would be in the district championship game. For them to come out and win it, on Senior Night — excellent.”
The excellent effort of the Cougars was a direct contrast from the last Brighton/Munford match up during the regular season. After Munford defeated the Cardinals 2-0 in the first game, Brighton dominated the rematch 3-1.
Burnett said after that defeat that things had to change for his team when they saw the Cardinals in districts.
“Effort, passion, drive,” he noted. “At Brighton that second game that we played them, they were just dead. They were like zombies and just didn’t want. Brighton really wanted it. We beat them here first. So Brighton had a chip on their shoulders and took care of business up there.
“Now we had the chip on our shoulders,” Burnett continued. “We were not going to let anybody step on this field tonight and beat us. Not on district championship night or Senior Night. You could just tell. They were ready. My guys were focused and dialed in.”
McCann said the Brighton wakeup call and a good showing at a tournament during the regular season inspired the Cougars.
“The tournament was a turning point,” he said. “We kept up with State Tournament level teams. We realized we could be one of those teams. So we stepped it up.”
Validation came for the Cougar seniors McCann, Seth Callahan, Thomas Choate, Zach Rogers, Robert Savage, Max Sneed and Brady Tiner beating Brighton 1-0 in the district tournament.
But the team and Burnett said the win over the Cardinals is just the first step.
“Same type of effort,” he said. “It’s going to be either Bartlett or Cordova. We played Bartlett and lost 3-0. Either way it works for us because we played Bartlett and know how they play. And Cordova hasn’t been as strong as Bartlett throughout the season. But this time of year, you never know.”