Jacksonville Daily Progress
To put the Jacksonville Tribe boys soccer team's successful season and deep post season run in perspective, it had been just over three years since any team from Jacksonville had participated in a regional tournament.
And although the Tribe fell, 2-1, on the scoreboard to Spring Woods on Friday in the Class 4A, Region III semi-final, what this year's group was able to achieve will be remembered long after the painful memories of Friday's match fade away.
The Tribe, sparked by the play of its eight seniors, went from being the the second-best team in District 35-4A at the end of the regular season, to being one of the top four teams in the entire region as of last week.
“I wish the season didn't have to end (last week),”Jacksonville head boys soccer coach, Randy Hammontree, said. “I think there is a lesson to be learned here and that’s to never underestimate the value of working hard.
“This group never quit or slacked up.Up until the end they continued to work hard in practice and focused on improving...they were never satisfied with their game; they always wanted to be better, and I think that that had a lot to do with how far we were able to advance.”
As good as Spring Woods was, it will be Beaumont Lee representing the region in the state tournament later this week, after the Generals sent SpringWoods packing from the playoffs after defeating the Tigers, 3-1, Saturday afternoon at Turner Stadium in Humble.
“Spring Woods was the best team that we played all year; we knew that going into the match,” Hammontree said. “We were really close to winning; a shot here, or a play there and who knows, but I don't want to take anything away from the job that Spring Woods did.”
There were a couple of key individual milestones reached during the season that shouldn't go without mention.
Senior midfielder, Martin Melchor, who is headed off to Coastal Carolina University (NCAA, Division I) following graduation, became the all-time career scoring leader at Jacksonville, and Hammontree earned his 100th win as Indian head coach, when his team got past Bryan Rudder, 2-1, earlier this month.
Jacksonville's fan support ramped up significantly this year as more and more students and members of the community decided to get on the bandwagon and get out to support the team.
The varsity cheerleading squad was in attendance at several of the playoff matches and the Indian Drum Line made an appearance as well, all helping to electrify the atmosphere.
Hats off to Tribe soccer and coaches Hammontree and Jay Brashear for being East Texas' only Region III regional tournament qualifier (boys or girls) for an extraordinary run.