It was a great soccer season for Putnam County High School as both the girls and boys teams were crowned Region 4-AA champs and advanced to the Elite 8 round of the state AA tournament.
The seniors were present but the key for the good season came down to the development of the younger players and their rapid deployment into varsity soccer.
In the Elite Eight, the journey for 2021 ended at home when soccer rich traditional powerhouses Lovett and Pace Academy came to town and simply imposed their will on the War Eagles’ dream season.
Big, powerful Lovett blindsided the Lady War Eagles 9-0 in the first game and lightning fast Pace Academy utilized their speed and superb ball control skills to topple the War Eagles 5-1.
Putnam County fought with all they had on this night, but in the end, the schools that play soccer year round were just too much with precision, skill, great field vision, outstanding communication and just well developed talent.
In the end, Putnam met “The Standards”, meaning those are the programs that hold the highest of standards for high school soccer and programs to be patterned after in the future.
“We were just out-played and that was some excellent soccer we got to watch,” said girls coach Brandi Barling. “Hopefully, we’ll pick up some tips and take them with us next season. We were playing more of a college level team than a high school soccer level team. They were excellent.”
Boys coach Rhett Roberts just shook his head when asked about handling the fast Pace Academy team.
“Man, they were fast indeed but their foot control of the ball at that speed and their ability to move it around just wore us out,” he said. “They pressed us hard all night and kept the ball out of the middle all night. And they weren’t too gentle about it either.”
Both coaches were pleased with their seasons and the efforts of their teams during a year when expectations from the outside was not always as optimistic as one might expect.
“It was an excellent year. When we first started this season, I did not think we would be right here,” Barling recalled. “I’m extremely proud of how hard the girls worked and how far we came for sure.”
Roberts was full of emotion after the game after his seniors played together for the last time.
“I am so proud of this team,” he exclaimed. “And I am so proud of these seniors that have helped build this program. I can’t even talk about how proud I am [tonight] to be the coach of this team.”