The Greeneville soccer team blanked Tennessee High 5-0 to claim the Region 1-AA crown on Thursday afternoon. All five goals were spread out individually between five different athletes in the winning effort.
“We make team goal each year and this is one of our team goals,” Greeneville Coach Jerry Graham said. “We take it one step at a time. Get that district and the region championship is certainly one of those goals that we didn’t get last year that we put on that list. So this is big for us. We try to tell our kids to appreciate each and every one of them.”
The Devils will host their state sectional game on Saturday afternoon with a trip to the state tournament on the line. They will host Knox Halls at 4 p.m. on the grass at Fox Field.
Greeneville has now won 11 of its last 12 region championships, with last year's 2-1 loss to Sevier County being the lone exception. With a win on Saturday Greeneville will advance to the state tournament for the 11th straight year.
Greeneville started hammering away early and made a push towards the goal immediately. Austin Beets took a ball deep into the penalty box and tried to chip a shot over Eli Knowles in the goal. Knowles’ quick reaction to the shot awarded him a save.
A Greeneville corner kick posed another threat for the Vikings defense, but Eli Ware chested a ball and cleared the rock to take possession back.
Beets took another shot at the goal, but a deflection off Noah Broglio’s foot kept the game scoreless for longer. Brady Quillen put a strong foot to the ball and nailed one straight at Knowles in the goal, but landed directly in the keeper’s arms.
Although that attempt didn’t prove fruitful, Quillen’s next opportunity landed Greeneville with their first goal of the contest.
Quillen carried the ball all the way up from midfield and rifled a shot into the back of the net to put the Devils ahead in the 15th minute of action.
Drew Shelton’s shifty foot work gave him plenty of opportunities to put one away in the contest, but he just couldn’t find any luck. He contributed in other ways, though, with an assist and a blocked shot that would lead to a goal.
“The work that he does can’t just be translated by goals,” Coach Graham stated. “His possessions, his distribution, he comes back on defense. He does so many things for us out there on the field. He didn’t have any goals, but his work certainly paid off in the goals on the scoreboard. He creates so many things for our team.”
Connor Stayton sent a cross to Spencer Robinson that almost granted the Junior with a scoring opportunity. Robinson’s shot was saved at the last second to put more pressure on Knowles and the Viking defensive line.
Robinson’s luck would change on the next trip into the box as Shelton’s missile towards the goal was blocked and Robinson sprinted up and poked the rebound past Knowles for a 2-0 lead.
David Fisher would add another goal five minutes later from 20 yards out to continue pouring it on. Fisher’s strike caught everyone off guard and landed snugly in the upper right corner.
“Fish has been doing a good job at picking his moments and when he does he has been tremendous,” Coach Graham said. “That shot was a beautiful, gorgeous shot. Great placement and great shot by him.”
Zack Barnes had his opportunity snatched from him when Broglio deflected another shot. Broglio blocked another shot a few moments later after Cade Snelson took another strike at the goal.
The Devils would hold a commanding 3-0 lead at halftime.
An indirect free kick in the penalty box was awarded to Greeneville and almost executed to success early in the second half. Drew Shelton set up Landyn White with a shot that sailed just right of the post.
Shelton would claim an assist in the 53rd minute with Austin Beets posting another goal for the Greene Devils.
Aiden Creech almost had the night off and didn’t have a shot come his way until Matthew Cardoso put one on target and forced the senior to make a save.
The Greene Devil defensive line was on lockdown on Thursday, not allowing a single shot in the first half and only two shots on goal for the entirety of the contest.
Coach Graham bragged on his back line, “Great defensive effort. Drew Hillyer, Defensive Player of the Year, back there in the back. Aidan Creech, awesome job in the goal. The communication on that back line has been really good all year.”
David Fisher had the privilege of taking a corner kick for Greeneville and set up an amazing shot opportunity for Landyn White. White leaped into mid-air and put a hard right foot on the ball to send a rocket by Knowles and continue pounding away at the Vikings.
Greeneville would cruise to the finish and take a 5-0 victory over the Vikings to claim the Region 1-AA throne.
The All-Tournament teams were loaded with Greene Devils as Creech, Quillen, Snelson, and Blake Rogers took home first team honors. Beets, Cooper Shepard, Alden Wakefield, and Stayton were named to the second team.
Hillyer was awarded with the Defensive Player of the Year and Drew Shelton was named Offensive Player of the Year.