The Central Magnet soccer team is putting together a season for the record books. The Tigers are 10-3 this season, ranked No. 3 in the state and are unbeaten in District 11. Thursday night, Central took down another district foe in Giles County 6-0.
Nathan Clark tallied a hat trick for the Tigers - an impressive accomplishment for a player who isn’t even playing his natural position.
“Nathan Clark is actually a goalie who we have been converting as a backup forward option,” Central Magnet coach Ray Bennett said. “He’s picked up goals in games where we’ve needed it. He’s coming along nicely and we’re hoping next year he can step up a lot when J.J. graduates.”
The other three goals came from Andrea Zaragoza, Eli Horton and Josh Stout. Jorge Graniel added two assists, while Asher Feltz and Jarod Ball had an assist apiece.
However, the hottest player on the field might have been goalkeeper Russell Harper. The junior had a two-save shutout, his ninth clean sheet of the season. In fact, of the six district wins Central Magnet has, all have been shutouts.
“Russell Harper is probably the strongest keeper that we’ve had in a long time,” Bennett said. “He’s got really, really fast reactions in net and he’s playing at a high level. He can play at a high level in college.”
The only district game left on the schedule comes Tuesday at Tullahoma. The Tigers have a shot of closing out a perfect district record, adding to an already impressive resume that boasts wins over Siegel, Stewarts Creek and last year’s state champion Greenville.
“We’ve been a strong team in the past,” Bennett added. “The last four years we’ve went to state. So, we have a good, strong base of talent that works extremely hard. It’s been a strong, collective effort.
“We want teams to be hesitant and uncertain when they play us. If we can establish that in the regular season and we can shake them mentally before we step on the field, you have an advantage. The key is, we’re creating that now. We’re not exactly a match they look forward to playing.”
After Tullahoma, Central has two final games against Oakland and Franklin County before the district tournament begins.
“Oakland is probably the game our boys look forward to most every year,” Bennett said. “That’s a big rivalry for us.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @mpatrickg5