By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain defeated North Buncombe 5-2 in non-conference soccer action Sept. 22 at North Buncombe.
Ben Mathews scored two goals for the Mustangs (8-2-1).
“We have a chronic issue starting slow the first 30 minutes,” Coach Stephen Brown said. “They dominated early, but we were able to weather their storm.”
SM broke through in the 30th minute when Josh Handy scored with an assist from Gabe Kinner.
“Gabe played a beautiful ball in, and Josh was able to get behind the defense and bury it,” Brown said. “He was one on one with the keeper.”
Mitchell Russotti made it 2-0 five minutes later off an assist from Silas McPherson.
“Silas won the ball and played it across to Mitchell, who scored from 8 yards out,” Brown said.
The Mustangs led 3-0 at halftime after Mathews’ goal in the 37th minute following an indirect free kick by Kinner from inside the box.
“Gabe tapped it to Ben, and he hit it into the top netting of the goal over their wall,” the coach said.
Landon Sheridan put the Black Hawks on the board in the 47th minute with a free kick.
SM countered in the 58th minute when Caleb Borchelt scored with an assist from Mauricio Hernandez upping the lead to 4-1.
“Mauricio did a good job freeing himself and passed the ball across the goal box, and Caleb scored with his left foot,” Brown said.
The margin was 5-1 after Mathews’ penalty kick after a foul in the box in the 63rd minute.
North’s Gabe Bowman scored the final goal from just inside the 18 in the 69th minute.
The Hawks had a 20-18 edge in shots. Carson Seagraves and Nathan Porter both had four saves for the Mustangs. North’s Liam Aiken also had four saves.
Brown said the game turned when Kinner came off the bench and provided an assist for the first goal.
“That opened the flood gates and took the wind out of their sails,” he said.
“They only had three subs so our depth was able to wear them down,” he added. “We ended the way we wanted to, and that’s the main thing.”
The Mustang JVs are 5-2-1 after a scoreless tie.
The team had 12 shots on goal, with five corner kicks, and Mathias Saunooke made five saves.
“The team continues to develop their communication and effective touch on the ball,” Coach Abby Buenting said. We are grateful for our unrelenting defense.”