GATLINBURG – The Greene soccer team picked up a 2-0 win over Murfreesboro Central Magnet on Saturday afternoon in the Smoky Mountain Cup in Gatlinburg.
It was the Greene Devils second win in the tournament after they beat Franklin Road Academy 8-2 on Friday, and set them up for a chance to win their group on Sunday morning if they can top Centennial.
“Our mission today was to put two halves together that were like how we played in the second half against FRA yesterday,” Greeneville coach Jerry Graham said. “Our off the ball movement was really good in every third. We were able to find those passing lanes. I’m super proud of our communication tonight.”
The Devils improve to 2-0-1 in the early portion of the season and Graham hopes that the challenging schedule out the gate will help his squad prepare for a deep run late in the year.
“We want to see composure right now, and I think we got that today,” Graham said. “We didn’t play slow but we played composed. We played for each other today, and I felt like we mixed things up up top. Our outside wingers and our forwards were moving interchangeably and fluidly. We were able to get numbers behind the ball defensively whenever we lost the ball in transition. I felt like we saw a lot of good things today.”
Austin Beets got the breakthrough goal for Greeneville in the 37th minute. Brady Quillen started the play with a long lead pass from 45 yards away and Beets ran onto it just outside the box. He took two touches as he approached the right post with a defender draped on his shoulder, and then Beets fired his shot across the face of Central keeper Isaiah Phillips for a 1-0 lead.
Through most of the first half both teams traded runs at their goals, but with Beets’ shot Greeneville was able to take the momentum into the break and then carried that over into the second half.
“It was big to get that one going into halftime because we had a few opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on before that,” Graham said. “Sometimes you have those games where you get good looks but they don’t go in. But we felt like we had a goal coming, and it was nice to see Austin make that finish.”
The Devils took the first five shots of the second half, and then it the 61st minute it was able to give itself a little breathing room with another goal. Alden Wakefield started the play with a long lead pass to Spencer Robinson who took possession right of the box and charged at the frame before firing his shot inside the left post.
“Everything is on triggers, there are certain things we are looking for to trigger those opportunities and the guys are starting to see those things. The fact that we are seeing those at the same time is what leads to goal opportunities. I felt like we were all on the same page today,” Graham said.
Defensively keeper Tanner Myers was credited with the clean sheet while recording five saves. Defenders Cooper Graham and Drew Hillyer gave the Devils a physical presence in front of the frame and made it tough for Central to get good looks at the goal. Then on the outside Connor Stayton and David Fisher did a good job taking possession back for the Devils, and staring the attack from the boundaries.
“Those guys did a good job of slowing down play and then finding the midfield,” Graham said. “The midfield’s off the ball movement and showing in those space as spectacular too. Seeing everybody on the same page and doing their jobs, it was pretty tremendous soccer today.”