State is a word you hear high school coaches use when defining goals for successful teams. Though it’s a motivational word around Warren County, it’s not a feat many teams have achieved recently.
The 2001 Warren County High School soccer team was the last group to advance to the state tournament and, because of its accomplishment, the ’01 Pioneers will be honored next Friday night at a home soccer match.
Warren County coach Todd Willmore, who also serves as the high school’s athletic director, wanted to make sure the 10-year anniversary of the most successful group of Pioneer soccer players was celebrated.
“We wanted to recognize one of the most successful teams in our history, especially with it being the 10-year reunion,” said Willmore. “It’s a chance to show the community our program has had success before and there’s no reason to think we can’t have this kind of success in the future.
“We’d like to do this for a number of our past teams.”
The 2001 Pioneer soccer squad was one of the most dominant teams to step foot on a soccer field at Warren County High School. It was anchored by two all-state players, seniors Robert Garibaldi and Jimmy Barnes.
Garibaldi was a scoring machine during his tenure in Warren County. His scoring exploits were never more noticeable than in the team’s biggest win of the season.
Garibaldi scored the team’s only two goals in the state-qualifying win over Cleveland and his success would lead him to be named All-State.
Barnes was the team’s vocal leader and he had his fair share of scoring moments in his career. One of Barnes’ biggest goals was scoring on a header during the regionals against Franklin County, a goal which capped a furious comeback win and kept Warren County alive for the state competition.
Barnes also scored the goal which secured the Pioneers’ “three-peat” in the District 7-AAA tournament. Playing against Riverdale High School, Barnes ricocheted in a corner kick in the final minute to lift the Pioneers to a 4-3 victory.
The 2001 team, which was led by a senior class that graduated with 44 wins, three consecutive District 7-AAA titles, two regional championships and most importantly the run to the state’s Final 4, competed against a different district 10 years ago, one consisting of most of the Murfreesboro schools.
Fittingly, the reunion night will come when the current soccer team faces the last team the 2001 team defeated. Next Friday, April 1, the Pioneers will play host to the Cleveland Blue Devils.
Game action begins at 4 p.m. with a junior varsity game, while varsity action is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. The 2001 squad will be honored during halftime of the varsity game.
Members of the 2001 team are encouraged to come out for a celebration 10 years in the making. Past greats like Garibaldi, Barnes, Brian Knowles, Matt George, Casey Simpson and Nathan Hyatt will be a welcome sight to the Pioneer faithful who have made Warren County one of the toughest places to play in recent years.
The 2001 team will bring a winning tradition back to the high school soccer field, one coach Willmore hopes will remain with his team throughout the rest of this season.