The Meridian Star
Count Philadelphia boys soccer coach Adam Huddleston among the few people unsurprised by the Tornados championship run this season.
Despite losing five seniors from last year's Class 1A/2/A/3A runner up team, Huddleston had a feeling this year's group would be just as strong.
“Being a realist, I'm not dumb, I knew losing five seniors was going to be tough,” Huddleston said. “But the goal has always been to be district champions and get in the playoffs to survive and advance. So far, we weren't district champions, but we got into the playoffs and we are just taking it one game at a time.”
That approach has led the Tornados all the way to a rematch of last year's state finals against Sacred Heart, where Philly lost 3-1 to the Crusaders. This year Huddleston and the Tornados are hoping a second-straight trip to state will provide the team with the experience it needs to bring a championship back to Philadelphia.
“The first year, it's more of a process you have to go through than anything else,” Huddleston said. “You are always wondering what is going to happen or when something is going to happen. It's easier the second year, you are going to show up, and you are going to play.”
Just as they were last season, the Tornados will play the role of underdog when they take on Sacred Heart at 11:30 from Clinton High School.
Philly will look to play aggressive in the rematch, creating as many opportunities as possible while trying to maintain possession and keep the ball away from its side. The key, Huddleston said, will be to keep the ball away from his net and away from the dangerous Sacred Heart attackers
“I don't have any choice but to be aggressive,” Huddleston said “That is one thing we will definitely do. We just need to kick the ball away from our side.”
While Huddleston expects his team to come out loose, playing with nothing to lose, the team is aware of what is at stake and is determined not to come home empty-handed.
“Sacred Heart is pretty good,” Huddleston said. “They are really good, but in soccer you never know what will happen.
“ We serve a great and mighty God, and you never know which way the ball is going to bounce. So far we have had a couple of good hops our way, and you never know what will happen. Maybe, maybe, we can win a state championship.”