By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain’s soccer team split its final two regular season games last week in Mountain Seven Conference action.
The Mustangs (6-8-5, 3-7-2) finished sixth in the league.
SM blanked Tuscola 2-0 Oct. 24 on Senior Night at Carr Hooper Stadium/Babe Howell Field.
“We got up early and kept the pressure on them,” Coach Emory Rhoads said. “We only gave up one true opportunity for them midway through the first half. Other than that everything was at a distance. It was a well played game.”
The Mustangs took a 1-0 lead just 1:06 into the game when Gavin Baer scored off a throw-in from Caleb Borchelt.
“It was a long throw-in to the top of the box,” Rhoads said. “Gavin settled and took a touch toward the baseline and hit a beauty of a shot over the top of the keeper.”
Austin Posey made it 2-0 at the 52:59 mark off of Gabe Kinner’s corner kick.
“We had them under some pressure and had quite a few corner kicks,” Rhoads said. “Austin chested the ball in.”
The Mustangs had 15 shots on goal. SM’s Nathan Porter made five saves, and Mathias Saunooke had one. Ty Hendricks made 13 saves for the Mountaineers.
East Henderson scored goals late in each half to take a 2-1 victory over the Mustangs Oct. 26 at East.
“East played a spirited game on their Senior Night,” Rhoads said. “We matched them and had plenty of opportunities. We had several good free kick chances in the second half.”
SM took a 1-0 lead some 10 minutes into the contest when Josias Acevado scored with an assist from Kevin Valasquez.
“He took a pass from midfield from Kevin,” the coach said. “He took a great touch, turned around their defender and hit a great shot from the top of the box.”
Jonathan Montes pulled the Eagles into a 1-1 tie when he scored with around a minute left in the half.
“He got down the side and into the top of the box off the dribble,” Rhoads said. “Our defender got tangled up and fell down, and he hit a shot across the box into the back of the post.”
Daniel Lajos scored what proved to be the game-winner for East with around eight and a half minutes to play.
“He scored off the dribble down the left wing,” Rhoads said. “He got it about midway through the box and hit a shot from about 12 yards.”
Porter made nine save for the Mustangs, and Alberto Blanco had seven for the Eagles.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Rhoads said. “They left it on the field. East made one more play than we did.”
The SM JVs ended the year 5-10-2 with a pair of losses.
Tuscola won 2-0. Miseal Perez made four saves for the Mustangs.
“Our first half needed a quicker pace and better focus,” Coach Abby Buenting said. “After the break, the men held off any future goals from Tuscola, and we were able to increase our attack.”
East also won 2-0 as Perez made nine saves.
“The final score doesn’t reflect how hard this team worked,” Buenting said. “The score was 0-0 until East converted off a penalty with four minutes remaining in the second period. Another penalty against us secured their victory. “Our season didn’t produce as many wins as we would have liked, but we are young, learning and better together,” she said.