By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain blitzed Highlands 9-0 in non-conference soccer action Sept. 8 at Carr Hooper Stadium/Babe Howell Field.
Erick Flores had two goals and an assist for the Mustangs (6-1). Ben Mathews also had two goals. The game ended on the nine-goal rule with 2:21 remaining.
“We probably could have ended it by halftime, but we just didn’t connect on a lot of chances,” Coach Stephen Brown said. “That was just Highlands’ second game of the season. They are hurting with numbers, and we wore them down. We had wanted to use this game as an opportunity to look at different personnel and lineups The guys showed up and played well and took care of business.”
Flores opened the scoring at the 5:58 mark with assists from Billy Ramirez and Jose Ramos.
Ramirez made it 2-0 at the 8:33 mark off of Flores’ assist.
“Erick did a good job of getting open and playing it off to Billy,” Brown said.
The lead reached 3-0 at the 12:09 mark when Mathews’ shot from 20 yards out went off the keeper’s hands and into the net.
Flores’ second goal upped the margin to 4-0 at the 37:07 mark, with an assist from Josh Handy.
The halftime score was 5-0 after Silas McPherson scored with 37 seconds to play off an assist from Gabe Kinner.
“Gabe did a nice job getting the ball in the box, and Silas finished,” Brown said.
The first goal of the second half was by Mauricio Hernandez with an assist from Ramirez for a 6-0 lead at the 44:42 mark.
Kinner’s goal with an assist from McPherson at the 58:53 mark pushed the advantage to 7-0.
“Silas played a nice through ball, and Gabe got in behind the defense,” Brown said.
Mathews scored for the second time with an assist from Ramirez making it 8-0 at the 75:01 mark.
The game ended on the mercy rule with 2:21 remaining on a header by Raul Aquino-Lopez after he received a long cross pass from Cesar Garcia.
The Mustangs were dominant throughout as they took 34 shots to three by the Highlanders.
SM’s Carson Seagraves made two saves, and Sam Stiwinter had 10 for the Highlanders.
A home game with Blue Ridge, which was postponed from Sept. 2, has been reset for Oct. 7 at 5 p.m.