The peaks and valleys of an athlete’s emotions can be drastic. Alcoa junior midfielder Shelby Knight found out the hard way last season.
In 2017 when Knight was a freshman, the Lady Tornadoes won the Class A state title. Last year when she was a sophomore Alcoa lost in the state semifinals and did not even get a chance to play for another title. That didn’t sit well with Knight.
“It was definitely different last year,” she said. “I remember walking off the field and bawling my eyes out. Honestly, I didn’t think we’d have another shot.”
Luckily for Knight and her teammates, they will get another shot. After beating Merrol Hyde in Wednesday’s state quarterfinals and Adamsville in Thursday’s semifinals, the Lady Tornadoes (14-5) will take on Signal Mountain (13-9) today for the championship.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Page High School in Franklin. The TSSAA on Friday announced a change of venue for the championship games because of poor field conditions at Siegel Soccer Park in Murfreesboro.
That the Lady Tornadoes have a chance to win their third championship in three years is a surprise for coach Shane Corley.
Alcoa lost four players, including two who signed with Division II college teams, from the starting lineup in last year’s state semifinal loss and replaced them with two freshmen and two sophomores. Three of those new starters are on the back line.
Corley said he didn’t expect a bad season, but he never would have expected potentially the best season.
“This is not the team we expected to get here,” he said. “This was more of a rebuilding year. The fact that we made it to Murfreesboro was kind of the top of the mark as far as what we wanted to accomplish. Everything else is just extra. Now that they’ve gotten here, all of a sudden the confidence has grown. They want to go win it right now.”
Standing in the way of the Lady Tornadoes is a familiar opponent. Alcoa beat Signal Mountain in the 2017 state title game and lost to Signal Mountain in the 2018 semifinals. The Lady Eagles went on to win the state title.
In the eight state tournament games the Lady Eagles have played since 2017, Alcoa is the only team to score on them.
The Lady Tornadoes hope to do it again today, and if they do it enough they may lift another trophy.
“It’s unbelievable,” Knight said after Thursday’s semifinal victory.
“Last year unfortunately we lost one round before the state championship. This brings back all the feels, and it means a lot to be able to go back and have another shot at winning state.”