The Clarkdale boys went 3-1 in Saturday’s Lauderdale County Tournament to come away with the championship trophy at Northeast Park.

A 1-0 loss to West Lauderdale in the evening finale of the tournament wasn’t enough to dampen the Bulldogs’ afternoon, as the Knights would have needed to win 3-0 in order to win the boys’ championship, which was based on a points system. Earlier Saturday afternoon, Clarkdale beat Southeast Lauderdale 4-1, Meridian 2-1 and Northeast Lauderdale 3-0.

“It feels good,” Clarkdale boys soccer coach Luke Smith said. “I think this is our third time to win it in four years, so it’s always fun coming out here every year. It’s a long day, and the boys are super tired, so being able to lift up a trophy makes it a little easier.”

While he would have liked to see his team take the final game against West Lauderdale, Smith said he came away pleased with his team’s performance in all four games Saturday.

“We’re missing a few starters; one’s out with an injury, and one is out of town, so I got a chance to play some younger guys,” Smith said. “I was impressed with all of them. I was very pleased with the mains starters who have been playing, and I was pleased with the guys who stepped up and got some playing time today.”

A goal early in the second half by the Knights’ Laken Williams was the difference in West Lauderdale’s game against Clarkdale, and Knights head coach Matt Castleberry said he was glad to see his team cap off Saturday’s tournament on a high note.

“Overall I thought we played OK,” Castleberry said. “Obviously, we didn’t play as well as we wanted to in the last game (a 2-1 loss to Southeast Lauderdale), but to come out, move the ball, possess and have some good quality chances against Clarkdale and come away with the win is probably more important to the boys than actually getting the trophy.”

Clarkdale improved to 6-3-1 on the season after Saturday’s tournament.

Clarkdale McCall Gilmore, West Lauderdale Lilly Vincent

Clarkdale's McCall Gilmore, left, tries to step in front of the ball before West Lauderdale's Lilly Vincent can pass it during their game Saturday evening, Nov. 20, 2021, in the Lauderdale County Tournament at Northeast Park.

WEST GIRLS WIN TOURNAMENT 

A 0-0 tie with Clarkdale Saturday evening capped off a strong showing for the West Lauderdale girls as they won the Lauderdale County Tournament on points.

West Lauderdale Emily Arias

West Lauderdale's Emily Arias delivers a pass with a hard kick during the Lady Knights' game against Clarkdale Saturday evening, Nov. 20, 2021, in the Lauderdale County Tournament at Northeast Park.

“We had a few players out of town, but I thought we played really well today,” Lady Knights coach Alex George said. “I always enjoy the Lauderdale County Tournament. You get to compete with your county schools, and I think our girls are on course at this point in the season. Collectively, I think we’re playing well. We’re still working on trying to find the back of the net at times, but I think that will come, and I think we’re in a good spot. I’m excited to take home the trophy, and I think the girls earned it.”

Clarkdale head coach Brandon Rodgers said the tournament provided a good opportunity for his girls to work on improving certain areas.

“I thought we played well today,” Rodgers said. “We were trying to work on playing possession soccer, and I thought we did that for the first three games today where everyone got the ball, kept it and knocked it around and created some chances. I thought we looked pretty good.”

The Lady Knights improved to 6-1-3 after Saturday’s tournament, while Clarkdale improved to 4-3-1.

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