By Carey Phillips
Dawson Karup scored both goals Monday as Smoky Mountain opened its soccer season with a 2-1 win at Owen.
“What a great way to start the year off,” Coach Stephen Brown said. “Owen is always a challenge, and we like to get them on the schedule early as a true test for our team. They were physical and very well coached. I felt like our guys responded to the call and played a well-rounded 80 minutes.”
Karup scored the game--winning goal with less than seven minutes remaining with an assist from Hunter Pressley.
“On his birthday, Dawson Karup really stepped up in a big way by burying both of those goals,” Brown said. “It was a great birthday present to himself and huge gift to his team. His teammates set him up nicely on both goals.”
Karup opened the scoring in the 16th minute with an assist from Ryan Waliezer, and the Mustangs led 1-0 at halftime.
Owen tied it when Gabe McGee scored in the 56th minute with an assist from Bebe Rojas.
“Before the game, I told the guys just to go out and have fun and enjoy the fruits of their labor,” Brown said. “Collectively, our guys have worked hard this summer and preseason to prepare for the season. They were able to see it pay off.”
The Warhorses had a 15-14 edge in shots. SM’s Zeb Sink and Owen’s Francisco Carillo both had six saves.
After losing the entire back line, other than Sink, to graduation, Brown was pleased with the play of the defense.
“There were a lot of question marks about who would step in and assume the roles back there,” he said. “We have six or seven guys who have really bought into our system and really stepped up to provide our team with a solid 80 minutes of defense.
“It is a long season but I think this was a great step in the right direction, and I hope our guys use this as motivation and fuel to seek more and to build on our strengths and learn from and limit our weaknesses,” he added.
The Mustang JVs won 2-1 as Skyler Sutton scored both goals. Camden Myers had an assist.
SM’s Carson Seagraves made two saves, and Nathan Porter had one.
The Mustangs, who had a 14-4 advantage in shots, led 1-0 at halftime.
Owen scored on a penalty kick with 10 minutes left.
“I thought we performed very well for this point in the season,” Coach Jonathan Parsons said. “We have a lot of new players and are playing in a new system. There’s a learning curve, but the guys are adjusting very well. They are eager to put into play what we have been practicing.”