Does it ever get difficult to be motivated for a state tournament when you've won as many as the 96 Girls Black? Apparently not. Judging by the way they celebrated their fourth straight state championship, Coach Kevin Keck's squad looked happier than ever to claim the crown. Pandemonium reigned in Murfreesboro when the team knocked off Tennessee Soccer Club in a penalty kick shootout to punch their ticket to the regional tournament in Baton Rouge. With the dense heat of Louisiana looming, Keck's team has their eyes on an even bigger prize.
"We want to make a run in the regional tournament," Coach Keck said. "It's an honor to win the state tournament and a great accomplishment, but these kids are thinking bigger."
His team has won five of the last six Tennessee state championships, and they've also enjoyed success in the regionals. Last year, they won all three of their bracket games before falling in the quarterfinals.
"This team knows it has the ability," Keck added. "Last year, they lost a heartbreaker to the Florida state champs. It's weighed on everyone for a while. I think the players are ready and excited about getting another chance at it."
In the state tournament, the 96 Girls Black opened with an impressive 5-0 win over Stones River, then had a win a tough battle with FC Alliance's 96 Girls Black 2 to advance to the state final. Experience definitely paid off, as they claimed a 4-2 win in the shootout.
"Our goalkeeper made two fantastic saves," Keck said. "And all four of our shooters hit their shots. Our players were cool and calm until the final whistle sounded."