By Rubin E. Grant
Late Sunday afternoon, more than 24 hours after Homewood had claimed the Class 6A boys soccer championship, Patriots senior goalkeeper Ian Myers was still trying to grasp what they had accomplished.
“It still hasn’t set in fully,” Myers said.
Top-ranked Homewood scored two goals in a two-minute stretch late in the second half to seal a hard-fought 3-0 victory against second-ranked Fort Payne last Saturday in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Soccer Championship at Huntsville’s John Hunt Soccer Complex.
Homewood (24-0-2) completed an undefeated season in the process and recorded their 20th shutout. The Patriots allowed only nine goals the entire season.
Myers didn’t take credit for all the shutouts. He said it was a team effort.
“It would be easy for me to say I was responsible for all the shutouts, but from top to bottom, our team played hard together,” Myers said. “We all had the same goal in mind all season and we just had to go out and make it hap- pen.
“Our defense was rock-solid all season. Our midfielders Stanford (Massie) and Jake (Henderson), our two captains, were good attacking at midfield and getting back and playing defense. We scored 106 goals, so our strikers were good at putting pressure on the other team’s defense and that kept them from getting to our defense.”
Homewood beat Northview 4-0 in the semifinals, limiting the Cougars to only three shots on goal. Myers’ recorded two saves.
The Patriots broke the game open with three goals in the second half. Sophomore Brooks Brannon scored at 26:56 of the first half. Junior Jackson Wallace scored just 1:54 into the second half, and junior Connor Smith added two goals to close the scoring.
Homewood followed a similar script in the championship game against Fort Payne. The teams had battled to a scoreless tie during the regular season and the first half in the final ended in a scoreless tie. But Homewood went on the offensive in the second half to take control.
Senior forward Eric Hepp scored the Patriots’ first goal on an assist from Smith early in the half. Hepp, who earned MVP honors, added his second goal at 68:02, driving past two Wildcats defenders to score. Jackson Wallace tacked on the third goal less than two minutes later.
Fort Payne (19-4-3) had not allowed a goal in three playoff matches entering the final.
Myers was solid in goal, recording four saves.
The championship was the fifth in school history for Homewood and the first since 2014.
“I told the kids that we had to play without pressure every single game,” Homewood coach Sean McBride said. “I think they grew stronger, stronger and stronger. I think it was just fitting the way the season went for these guys and this group of seniors, especially.” ❖