MURFREESBORO - Greeneville patiently waited for its opportunities to come and made the most of them on Tuesday by shutting out Crockett County 5-0 in the opening round of the Class AA Soccer State Tournament.
“It feels great to get past that first round,” Greeneville coach Jerry Graham stated. “When you get down here it’s all about surviving, so it doesn’t matter who you play or what round as long as you get past them. Doesn’t matter what the score line is it’s just surviving into the next round.”
The win puts Greeneville into the final four where it will take on Valor Prep at 4:30 CT on Wednesday afternoon at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro.
The Green Devils won the opening possession and started slowly chipping away at the Cavaliers. Austin Beets fired the first shot of the game and Drew Shelton followed up with a dart directly at the keeper.
Shelton gave Landyn White two close attempts in the box, both being headers, but unlucky positioning kept Greeneville off the scoreboard for the time being.
The Devils had to hold their breathe to keep Crockett County scoreless after a foul call close to the goal. Alex Nolan earned the Cavs a free kick on the edge of the box and almost cashed in, but Connor Stayton’s body stood in the way to block the shot.
The lone goal of the first half was provided by Austin Beets when he stepped past the Cavalier’s defensive line and poked one into the upper right corner for the first goal.
“He’s a very unselfish player,” coach Graham bragged. “This time he was able to keep it himself and get our first goal, which was actually a tremendous goal in this game and helped break the scoring.”
A yellow card was issued to Cooper Shepard on a slide tackle and gave Crockett County another free kick opportunity. The ball would land safely in Aiden Creech’s arms and go back into Greene Devil possession.
Drew Hillyer took a free kick from the midfield stripe right before the intermission and put too much power into kick and watched it sail over the goal to display the power in his right leg.
Greeneville held a steady 1-0 lead at halftime.
The pressure was on for Crockett County to put a stop to Greeneville’s offense and reverse the first half result, but the Greene Devils wouldn’t let that be the case and continued tearing it up on the pitch.
Drew Shelton sent a pass to a streaking Beets who chested the ball and put a quick shot on target. A deflection by Crockett keeper Vernon Pillar pushed the ball out of bounds but didn’t slow the Greene Devils momentum one bit. Shelton found Cade Snelson charging through the defense and put the ball at his feet to lead him to a goal and increase Greeneville’s lead to 2-0.
“Wherever he’s at on the field, whether it’s on the wing or up top, he just always gives us 100% energy,” Coach Graham said. “And that work, whether it creates goals or translates into assists or whatever, it’s nice to have out there.”
A call was made on the field that gifted Greeneville with another chance to add to their lead. Beets dribbled through the box looking for an open shot and ended up being knocked to the ground earning a penalty kick. The sophomore forward punched it home and continued pounding away on the Cavs.
Blake Rogers won a 50/50 ball and moved past a Crockett County defender to place a shot on the floor and almost add another goal. A quick deflection saved the ball reaching the net.
Cade Snelson drilled another ball into the back of the net in the 69th minute to achieve his second goal and Greeneville’s fourth of the game to go ahead 4-0.
Landyn White still hadn’t made his mark on the game up to this point and changed that with a goal in the 73rd minute to put the game out of reach and send the Greene Devils into the semis of the Class AA State Tournament.
“He was actually playing our six back here and made an overlapping run and had a tremendous goal to make that fifth goal,” Graham mentioned. “Great finish by him. It’s nice to see him get that goal.”
Greeneville would advance after a 5-0 thumping of Crockett County in the Elite Eight. They will take on Valor Prep on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 CT with a spot in the State Championship game on the line.
“They possess the ball really well. They’re well composed. They’re well coached. They’ve got a couple stars on their team with a great supporting cast,” Coach Graham said of Valor Prep. “We’re going to go look and talk about our press a bit and try to organize an attack for them.”
Austin Beets and Cade Snelson would each add two goals a piece in the victory with Landon White scoring one.