The Greeneville soccer team came out of the second half with a new fire on Thursday on pounded shots at the net that allowed them to pull away from a dangerous Sevier County team in a 5-1 win.
“We’re pleased with the win today. Sevier County is a well-coached team and they have some gifted players. This a big win in our home opener,” Greeneville coach Jerry Graham said. “Our work rate wasn’t where it needed to be in the last part of the first half, but we talked about it at halftime and the boys responded. We told them that in the last 40 minute we needed guys moving up and back, and I think everybody responded well.”
The second half started with the Devils leading 2-1, but the Smoky Bears had taken all of the momentum into halftime after applying a great deal of pressure over the final 20 minutes of the first half.
The Devils halftime adjustment was to turn up the intensity, and it began to pay off quickly. Brady Quillen gave Greeneville a chance when he kept the ball at feet with some tough dribbling into the box before eventually being taken to the ground with a foul. A penalty kick was awarded in the 46th min, and Drew Shelton ripped it inside the left post for a 3-1 lead.
“We wanted to try to score a goal in those first five minutes,” Graham said. “Brady did a great, technical job of keeping it at his feet while dribbling through there to get the PK. Then Drew finished it. We felt like if we could add one or two quickly we could finish this thing out. That goal in the first five was really big as far as a momentum swing.”
Close range shots from Connor Stayton and Spencer Robinson followed, but Sevier County keeper Fernando Contreras was able to stop both.
Then in the 51st minute Robinson caught the defense off guard as they were looking to move the ball the other way. He rushed in from behind and took possession away from an inattentive Alex Ruiz before breaking the other way from 40 yards. He quickly made it into a wide-open box and beat the keeper one-on-one for a 4-1 lead.
The shots kept coming from Greeneville and in the 61st minute the Greene Devils added to their lead.
In the 61st minute Shelton sent a long pass ahead from wide on the left side to Simon Holt. Holt worked into the 18-yard box before slipping a quick pass to Austin Beets coming around his left side. Beets hammered a shot from 12 yards that Contreras had no chance at getting a hand on.
Greeneville also scored the first two goals of the night on a pair of skillfully delivered shots from beyond the top of the box.
The first goal came in the ninth minute after Beets regained possession for the Devils. He quickly pushed it ahead to Robinson who made a solo run with three Smoky Bears in front of him. Despite that he pulled up from 20 yards right of the goal and pinned a shot in the upper left corner of the frame.
The next goal came in the 17th minute started when Quillen sent a shot at the goal that was turned away. As the ball trickled to the left Robinson was first to the rebound and played it back to Shelton. Shelton found an opening from wide on the right side and curled a shot inside the left post for a 2-0 lead.
“They have been doing that in practice, and both of those were excellent shots,” Graham said. “It was nice to see them get those looks off, and it was nice to see us open up the field and give them the space. Then for them to finish it off under pressure against a good team was nice to see as well.”
Sevier County’s only goal of the night came in the 19th minute when Neyser Soler pulled up from 25 yards and snuck a shot just under the crossbar.
That was Sevier County’s only goal, but they spent the rest of the first half on the attack and putting pressure on Greeneville. Though the Devils bent a lot during that span they never broke again, helped in large part by four saves from Tanner Myers. Myers finished the night with nine saves for Greeneville.
With the win Greeneville improves its record to 7-0-2.