Merrol Hyde soccer supporters ooze with belief this season. The relatively young program formed in 2003 has yet to breakthrough, and into the Class A State Tournament, but they continue to knock on the door season after season.

Since the 2017 campaign, the Hawks have played in three consecutive Class A Sectional games, losing by a combined score of 3-7 against CSAS (2019, 2018) and Boyd Buchanan (2017).

No one will ever truly know how the 2020 season would have played out, but 2021 feels like family on the pitch. This crop of seniors isn’t letting what-ifs determine what will happen.

Consistent, outstanding leadership from the top down has given Daniel Brooks’ team the confidence and belief this is their year.

“The sectional game is not good enough,” Brooks said. “We want to punch our ticket to state. The boys know what is expected of us, and we have put in the work all season long to have those goals. We believe we are good enough to do it.”

Led by Trinity University signee goalkeeper Joshua Lynch, the Hawks defense has been lights out this year, surrounding only nine goals in 11 matches. Of those nine goals surrendered, eight came against Class AAA Sumner County friendlies, Beech, Hendersonville and Station Camp — the other coming in a 1-1 tie against White House Heritage.

Merrol Hyde has blanked six opponents this season, including Class AA Portland and DII-AA Pope John Paul II.

The Hawks’ game doesn’t stop there; in fact, that’s where it starts. Where does it finish? The back of the net.

Brooks’ crew has tallied 40 goals this year en route to their 8-3-1 record. Sophomore Lucas Wolthers leads the team with eight goals, while Shane Hencey (6) and Connor Flatt (6) have added at least five goals each.

“The boys are starting to come together and play some of their best soccer this season,” Brooks said. “We are getting back to our full form and I think the boys have done a nice job getting better daily.”

Of the 18 players who dress varsity for Merrol Hyde, six seniors have played at least four years for Brooks and seen how to lead both on and off the pitch.

“I think the great thing about this team is they truly love being around each other,” Brooks said. “These guys like each other, and I think that is a huge reason for our success. This team has been a fun group to coach.”

Merrol Hyde will wrap its regular season on May 7 at Class AAA Wilson Central before starting the District 8A Tournament on May 11.

Zach Womble oversees sports coverage in Sumner County for the Gallatin News, Hendersonville Standard and Portland Sun. Womble has won several TPA awards, highlighted by two first-place awards in 2020 for best sports writing and best special section.

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