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Yuren Rodriguez knocks in the penatly kick.
Photos by Kyle Thornton

Soccer team headed to Final Four

By Michael Butler

Reaching the "Final Four" is a feat that is celebrated in several sports, most notably basketball. The NCAA has a trademark on the name.

The Tallassee soccer team is among the final four teams in this year's 'field of four' to be played in Hunstville this week. The Tigers won their first-ever playoff game last week against Demopolis on Monday and followed the act with a 4-2 win on Friday over Brewbaker Tech to punch their ticket to the semifinals.

"I was super excited for the boys, for their parents, who have put so much time, energy and money into their development," said Tallassee head coach Matthew Tarpley. "I couldn't stop grinning. I knew I had a stupid, silly grin on my face, but there was nothing I could do - it was just stuck there."

It was a seminal moment for the program with the celebratory Gatorade bath for Tarpley. Getting both playoff games in front of the home crowd was a plus as well.

"It was nice being at home," said Tarpley. "We had good crowds. We had great support from the students, the school and community. There's no place like home."

Irvin Delfin scored two more goals on Friday against the Rams raising his season total to 64. Alec Carswell broke the ice with the team's first goal. Yuren Rodriguez scored the final goal on a penalty kick after Brew Tech had cut the lead to 3-2 early in the second half.

"They scored twice in like 60 seconds, then everybody's nervous," said Tarpley. "We kind of refocused and started attacking again."

Tallassee missed the playoffs last year with a team that went 15-4.

"Not making the playoffs last year kind of fueled the fire," Tarpley noted, "and beefing up the schedule paid off for us."

The Tigers (20-4-4) will play Gulf Shores (18-7-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Dolphins beat Faith Academy 2-1 in the Class 5A quarterfinals.

"The natural tendency is to be excited, but we kind of expect to go up and win on Wednesday," Tarpley added. "I want to be in the finals Friday morning. I want to see how we stack up."

Southside Gadsden and Guntersville will play in the other 5A semifinal.

"I see students at matches that I've never seen at a soccer match before. I've got random kids in the hall asking when tryouts are for next year. It's great to see the support."


Photos by Kyle Thornton