Chelsea wins Metro

Published 4:46 pm Monday, March 30, 2009

When a leading scorer goes down, it’s always hard to adjust, but the Chelsea boys’ soccer team found a way to bounce back last week to win the Metro Tournament B Division.

The Hornets’ leading goal scorer Jonathan Antonetti suffered a season-ending knee injury last month which forced Chelsea head coach Lee Miller to shift his lineup. The replacement proved to be 5-foot-5 junior midfielder Daniel Decker, who scored seven goals in the Metro Tournament.

“He has really come on lately,” Miller said. “When Antonetti went down we had to work some of our midfielders up top, and the guy who latched onto that and understood the role was Daniel. He’s developed into a strong forward.”

Decker had only a couple of goals this season before the Metro opener March 25. He notched the second and sixth goals of a 10-0 victory against Erwin to open the tournament and added three more the next day to help down Pleasant Grove, 9-0.

With the tournament on the line Friday, Decker found the net with less than six minutes to play to force a 1-1 tie with Hewitt-Trussville and send the Hornets into the championship game after a long list of tiebreakers.

Decker went on to score the game-winner in the first half Saturday to beat Pinson Valley, 1-0, in the championship game on a counter attack. Decker received a cross from Ashley Page and scored to the left side of the keeper.

“It just instantly hit my feet and went in the goal,” Decker said. “All of that weight of trying to get that goal of the tournament final was lifted.”

Miller said the Hornets have been working to play to Decker’s feet more, settting up opportunites for him to post up defenders and score.

“I had to step up and be the big man up top,” Decker said. “I’m not very big, so I have to adjust to everybody else’s defense. I have to be more of a skillful player instead of a big player.”

The Metro Tournament win was Chelsea’s second in three years, but it was the first for head coach Lee Miller. Before coming to Chelsea, Miller took Erwin and Hewitt to the Metro Tournament in the early 2000s.