Soccer: CPA strikes early, holds off Christian Brothers to advance to DII-AA state final | Sports

MURFREESBORO – The Christ Presbyterian Academy boys’ soccer team struck early and locked down on defense to win a 1-0 shutout over Christian Brothers at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex Wednesday in the Division II-AA state semifinals. 

The Lions will play for a state title for the first time since 2019.

“I think this is the hardest division in Tennessee,” CPA coach Tom Gerlach said. “Not to take anything from Brentwood and Bearden, but when you have the teams with the caliber of Baylor, McCallie, MBA and Christian Brothers, to be in the state finals is an honor. 

“This is the 14th or 15th state final for me, but this one is the sweetest, because we had to work so hard to get there.” 

CPA senior goalkeeper Hunter Walker preserved a clean sheet and was credited with three saves.

“We have not been here since when I played up in eighth grade and lost to ECS in the championship,” he said. “We have not been back to the semifinals since we lost in my sophomore year.”  

CPA will play for their fourth state championship on Thursday at 4 p.m. back at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex against Montgomery Bell Academy, which outlasted Baylor in penalty kicks after battling to a scoreless draw through regulation and overtime. 

The only goal in the match Wednesday came right out of the gate when freshman Camden Holiday scored with a right-footed strike in the middle of the box in the third minute. Junior Jack Harvey assisted on the tally. 

 “We were just so fired up for this game that at three minutes in, when we get our first chance, we were taking it,” Holiday said. 

Gerlach called the youngster a “game changer” for the Lions.  

“Having him on top only as a freshman is huge,” the veteran coach said. “He played every minute for us as an eighth grader and has really come into his own.” 

Walker explained how much of a spark plug Holiday has been for their team in his second season of varsity play.  

“It is crazy how good Camden has been with how young he is, but he plays like a senior,” Walker said. “He is doing big things and I am excited to go watch him play.”   

Christian Brothers had a flurry of shots in the final 11 minutes of the first half, but they all landed wide of the net or over. Early in the second half, CPA had two point-blank chances right in front of the goal, but were denied by Christian Brothers keeper Sam Thiele. 

The Purple Wave had two shots in the middle of the box inside the last seven minutes stopped by Walker. CPA possessed and ran out the rest of the clock to advance.  

The Lions defense has been really stingy this year, allowing only five goals on the season. 

“We have no travel players on defense,” Walker said. “We have Charlie Duckworth as the anchor picking up everyone and telling them where to go. We just play big back there and win all the headers.”

The Lions back line features Hunter Walker, Reid Madden, Lucas Heifner, Duckworth and Colin Kitchin.

“(They) are the reason we have been so successful,” Gerlach said. “Those four and the goalie have really locked it down and the reason we have not been scored on in a really long time.”

The Lions earned a 1-0 win against MBA – a region opponent – on April 21. The two tangle Thursday for the state championship.  

“It will be a battle,” Gerlach said.