Coming off a disappointing showing in the District 12-AA championship, Fairview was all business in the Region 6-AA semifinals Tuesday at Nolensville.
The Yellow Jackets bounced back from a 2-1 loss against Sycamore by shutting out the host Knights to advance to the region championship. Fairview will host Sycamore in a rematch Thursday.
“We committed that we were going to come out here and play as a team and do what it took to do our jobs,” Yellow Jackets coach Shane Smith said. “You can ask these guys … in every speech from coaches from captains from the mommies and daddies over there on the sidelines, it was straight about focus.”
Junior Brandon Parrish scored two goals and assisted on another tally by Andrew Gillette for Fairview, which improved to 14-3-1 overall. Max Cole-Staley earned the clean slate in goal.
Parrish has scored 36 goals this season and also has nine assists.
“We played a lot better as a team and the field helped us out a little bit,” Parrish said. “It was wider and we are able to play our game and just hold control the whole time.”
The Knights opted to play on the lesser-used grass field adjacent to the turf football field Tuesday where most home matches have been played. Nolensville coach Eric Shelton said the move was deliberate since the field is a bit wider, but as Parrish noted, it played right into the Yellow Jackets ball control and style of play.
Fairview was robbed of a home match last week in the district championship due to sloppy weather and had to play at Page High School’s turf field. This switch made it more like home, Parrish said.
“We played over here by choice,” Shelton said of the grass field, which is without stands and a scoreboard. “Our best games have been on bigger surfaces and on grass surfaces. We thought that would play into our hand, but it might have backfired on us.
“They were on the front foot from the from the first whistle.”
Parrish opened the scoring in the 19th with a powerful shot after creating some space with a touch to the right from the top of the box. The shot was slightly deflected but still found the back of the net for the 1-0 advantage.
Jorby Kimble had a header bang off the post less than six minutes later as Fairview’s pressure continued. In the 30th, Parrish broke loose on a give-and-go with Christian Parente for another tally.
“I had a captain say the small things first – worry about the small things and I mean that second goal is perfect example,” Smith said. “The little pass that Christian gave to Brandon to finish off was just a small little pass but it was the right pass. I'm very proud of my boys tonight.”
Fairview scored fast and early, but let off the pressure in the District 12-AA soccer champi…
Early in the second half, Parrish flipped a ball to Gillette for a shot from the right side of the goal to make it 3-0 and give the Yellow Jackets their 12th match of the season with at least three goals. The shutout was the team’s ninth.
Shelton said Fairview’s speed proved to be the difference, while trying to contain Parrish is a tall task.
“He's obviously a great athlete and has a very good touch on the ball,” Shelton said. “His nose for the goal. His ability to create just that six inches of space to get a shot off and then the power behind that shot is, I mean, that's a deadly combination.”
Nolensville had a good look near the end of the first half when Ethan Hoogerheide had a low shot just swing to the outside of the left post. In the second half, Hoogerheide had a breakaway ball from Mena Gerges broken up by Fairview’s Cole-Staley in front of the goal.
The Knights end the season 9-5-3. All 11 seniors played out the final minutes.
“They haven't had that upper-class to look up to as examples and as leaders,” Shelton said. “Everybody that's coming in behind them now have something to emulate … they've laid a good foundation for us going forward.”
Fairview received a boost from the return of Jose Perez, who came back from a broken foot, Smith said. The freshman youngster helped relieve the lineup and Ethan Shelley returned to the back line to beef up the speed there.
Thursday’s region championship against Sycamore will be the third meeting in less than three weeks between the Yellow Jackets and War Eagles. Sycamore (13-4-3) rallied for a 2-1 win against Murfreesboro Central Magnet for the District 12-AA sweep in the region semis. Fairview won the first matchup on April 26 4-0 on the road.
Playing at home is a big advantage for the Yellow Jackets, Parrish said.
“It means a lot,” he said. “We definitely missed out on that Friday but now that we have that back, it’s definitely something we're going to be able to look forward to and know that we have a chance at our home field.”