Above photo by Paula Ospina/The Jackson Sun and published at knoxnews.com.
Could Webb head boys’ soccer coach, Jared Ziegler, have envisioned a sweeter birthday celebration than the one he experienced Thursday night? Not likely. Webb’s Spartans presented Ziegler with the perfect birthday gift to a perfect 20-0 season – a 2021 Division II-A state championship title.
Ziegler’s Spartans spiritedly sang “Happy Birthday” to him shortly after receiving the state championship trophy – their first state crown since 2016 – following a 1-0 victory over Franklin-Grace Christian Academy at Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro. Teary-eyed and with a grin from ear-to-ear, Ziegler, who turned 34 this week, said it was the best birthday gift he’s ever received.
Webb’s single goal over Franklin Grace, which boasted a 20-1-1 record coming into Thursday’s state championship match, came on a penalty kick by Spartan junior Ben Pensky. In the first half of the game, fellow junior Garrett Webb attempted a shot at goal, but had his legs taken out from under him by Grace goalkeeper Kytn Wolf, resulting in a yellow card for Wolf and the PK for the Men in Green. The hard foul sidelined Webb, and Pensky, the Spartans’ leading scorer, took the shot. The midfielder successfully fired the ball into the Lions’ net and, together with solid defensive play for the rest of the game and sharp goal keeping by sophomore Nathan Pope, including a big save with less than 90 seconds to go in regular time, sealed the championship for the Spartans.
Pensky was instrumental in helping the Spartans punch their ticket to Murfreesboro this year with two goals and one assist in Webb’s 5-0 win over University School of Nashville in a State VIII match. Points also posted by senior Marcus Orton, Garrett Webb and sophomore Luke Dolin clinched Webb’s berth to the state semifinal against Christ Presbyterian Academy (14-4-1), where the Spartans defeated the CPA Lions, 5-3, to advance to the state title game.
Thursday’s victory marked Webb School’s fourth state soccer crown and third under Ziegler. In a 5Star Preps article by Dave Link ’77, posted May 27, 2021, Ziegler said Thursday’s game was special due to the contributions of all Webb players. “We talk about it all the time, everybody on the roster, even the JV guys that aren’t here,” Ziegler noted in the article. “Everybody made this program the way that it is, and even if you’re not playing any minutes, you have an impact and effect on the way you treat your teammates and pumping them up for matches.”
Congratulations, Webb Spartans!