By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain’s soccer team opened Mountain Seven Conference play last week and lost a pair of games, each by one goal.
Pisgah defeated the Mustangs (3-3-3, 0-2) Sept. 12 at Carr Hooper Stadium/Babe Howell Field and North Henderson won Sept. 14 at North.
The Bears overcame a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2.
SM scored with about 12 minutes elapsed as Silas McPherson connected with an assist from Ben Mathews. McPherson shot from just outside the box to the back post, Coach Emory Rhoads said.
Mathews made it 2-0 shortly past the midpoint of the half with a shot from just inside the left side of the box, Rhoads said.
The Bears cut the gap to 2-1 at halftime as Andrew Hardin scored on a breakaway with less than two minutes to go.
Jason Pina’s corner kick led to a goal by Carlos Hinojosa as Pisgah tied it 2-2 midway through the second half.
Hardin scored what proved to be the winning goal on a penalty kick after a foul in the box with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Nathan Porter made eight saves for the Mustangs. Pisgah’s Dominick Messer had 13 saves.
“We came out and controlled the first 25 miutes,” Rhoads said. “Pisgah is a good team. They found a little momentum and got us on our heels. We still generated some opportunities in the second half, but they sped us up a little and we got uncomfortable.”
The Mustangs also struck first two days later at North Henderson, but the Knights managed to pull out a 2-1 win.
Mathews opened the scoring midway through the first half.
“Ben intercepted a pass just outside the top of the box, drove left into the box and hit a low cross into the net,” Rhoads said.
SM had a chance to go up 2-0 but failed to convert a penalty kick.
The score was 1-1 at halftime after Zachary Johnson connected on a shot from the center of the field from about 25 yards out with around eight minutes to go in the half.
Taylor Vorbrich’s penalty kick after a hand ball in the box with less than 10 minutes to play gave North the lead for good at 2-1.
“We came out really well,” Rhoads said. “We just lost momentum and got fatigued physically and mentally. I think the physical nature of the game definitely benefited them.”
Porter made 22 saves, although Rhoads said the Knights did not have that many good scoring opportunities.
“A lot of the shots were not very dangerous, but he did make some fantastic saves,” the coach said. “They controlled possession in the second half. North is a very big, physical and skilled team.”
The Mustang JVs split a pair of games leaving them with a 3-4 record.
SM blanked Pisgah 2-0 as John Cruz and Kevin Ramirez scored goals. Alex Martinez and Mihin DeSilva had assists.
“We are very proud of these players,” Coach Abby Buenting said. “They have accomplished a great deal since the start of the season.”
The score was the same but the result different as North won 2-0.
“We began with a lack of focus and did not carry out our team goals,” Buenting said. “We increased the pace in the second half, but by then North had already secured the win. We will head back to the practice field to sharpen our skills.”