Five Lenoir City High School soccer players helped put Loudon County on the map and brought home a state championship to the greater Knoxville region.
Allesandro Carrozzo, Guillermo Castillo, Andrew Gonzalez, Armando Jimenez and Avery Johnson were part of the Knoxville FC Crush squad that defeated Dickson Futbol 3-1 on Nov. 10 for the Division 2 19u Tennessee State Soccer Association championship in Murfreesboro.
”I’ve had some really good players over the years, but I’ll tell you what, those kids from Lenoir City High School and what they’re doing, that was the missing piece to the puzzle this year,” Fabio Suarez, Crush director, said. “We don’t measure our success by that, but obviously when you do something like that when you end up on top at the end of your season, that’s always a big deal — that’s something that we want to celebrate. You sort of want to ask yourself, ‘What happened along the way? What helped us get there?’”
All five played key roles in the Crush’s historic season, and Suarez credits much of the team’s success to them.
”The group for the most part was a pretty new group,” he said. “They’re composed of two different age groups that we brought together. A lot of the new players were the Lenoir City guys, which we required over the last couple of seasons. I think from a large part, they were sort of the missing pieces that this particular group needed to do something like finish at the top of the league and win the state cup for different reasons and different roles. Some of those guys were very dynamic and brought a lot to the team.”
LCHS head soccer coach Santiago Correa was not surprised when he heard the news and praised all five for their accomplishments.
He believes their high level of play will carry over into the high school spring season.
”I think it’s very crucial for everybody, I think it really helps them to see and compete at a high level,” Correa said. “When I found out ... as a coach, you’re not supposed to watch them play, but they called me and said, ‘Hey, we won this,’ and I think it was exciting and I shared with everybody. That helped give us some confidence and showed everybody that we can do it and work hard. I think they work hard as a team over there, competitively.”
Since Correa took over the program four years ago, he has slowly rebuilt the team into a potential district champion. Last year, the Panthers finished second overall in District 4-3A and capped off the season with the best record since 2011.
This latest title is further proof of the winning culture within LCHS soccer, Correa said.
”The culture has been built,” he said. “I think last year was my year where it took me four years to build a culture, and I think that some of them, they’re seniors, so they’re going to help continue building, continue establishing that culture. Maybe all my freshmen are going to look at my seniors, and they’re going to be like, ‘I want to be like that, I want to play like them.’ It’s going to help a lot, getting confidence and helping me with the younger players.”