Lady Cherokees clinch district title

Greenback School’s Cierra Chandler, left, battles Loudon High School’s Jenifer Nicolas Oct. 1 in the Lady Cherokees’ 3-2 win over the Lady Redskins.

Greenback School head girls soccer coach Rob Fox brimmed with confidence after his Lady Cherokee squad captured the program’s first District 4-1A championship in a decade Sept. 23 in a 3-1 win over Polk County High School.

“It’s always good to win, so we’re super happy with how things are going so far,” Fox said. “There really is no championship for the regular season, but the biggest impact it has on us is the seeding for the district tournament, which makes us the No. 1 seed. We’re glad to have that, but we’ll go into the district tournament seeded No. 1. Most importantly, we’ll be the home field as long as we survive, so that’s certainly welcomed.”

For Greenback junior Julianne Fox, the win over Polk County was one of the best accomplishments of her high school experience. She also had one of the best games of her career Oct. 1 when she completed a hat trick to help secure a 3-2 win over rival Loudon High School.

“That’s a huge accomplishment,” she said. “We’ve never done that before, so we’re already very happy going into the rest of the season and the district tournament. It’s a big thing for us. That was definitely the highlight of our season. We came into the game with an advantage, and we definitely got it. Polk County is a really good team, and they have a really good crowd base, so we were happy that we could beat them at their place, too.”

The Lady Cherokees improve to 10-4 overall and 5-0 in District 4-1A.

For Rob Fox, the win over the Lady Wildcats was extra special.

“It took everything we had to beat them,” he said. “They’re very good, but we were able to pull off the win, and we’re very happy with that and what it’s done for us. Beyond being a No. 1 seed, it’s also helped us from a confidence perspective. We had lost to Polk County, I think, the last four meetings. We needed to prove, at least to ourselves, that we could beat them.”

The Lady Cherokees’ final regular season match is 6:30 p.m. Thursday at home against the Rockwood High School Lady Tigers.

However, Rob Fox already has his attention on the Oct. 15 home match against Bledsoe County in the District 4-1A tournament semifinals.

“Well, yeah I am and I shouldn’t be because we want to take it one game at a time,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been telling my girls, but at the same time, this next game doesn’t really impact us. They’re competition, and we want to win. Rockwood used to be a district rival of ours, so it’s kind of a historic rivalry for us. From the perspective of it being competition for us, we really want to win. At the same time, it really doesn’t have an impact on us until we get to the district tournament.”

Although the Lady Cherokees secured a 5-1 win over Bledsoe County earlier in the season, Rob Fox does not want to overlook any aspect when it comes to postseason play.

“We want to make sure we’re playing our game,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re not getting caught up in the excitement of playing Polk County in a district championship — we have to get to the district championship first. It’s going to be a constant reminder to my girls of, ‘Hey, you can’t look past anyone. You have to take each game one at a time, and you have to do what you have to do to win.’ The important thing for us will be to take Bledsoe County as it comes on that Tuesday and be ready to take them on. Anything could happen.”

The Lady Cherokees have a chance to make a deep postseason run, and while coaches and players are not overlooking any opponent, confidence is running high.

“Our record is probably the best it’s ever been before,” Julianne Fox said. “I think we definitely have the highest confidence we’ve ever had going into the district tournament. Hopefully, we can make it into substate. That’s our goal.”