By Carey Phillips
Asheville scored all the goals in the first half and defeated Smoky Mountain 4-0 in the final non-conference soccer game of the season Sept. 23 at Carr Hooper Stadium/Babe Howell Field.
“Once we hit conference, that’s all we will have,” Coach Stephen Brown said. “It’s been a grind since June with workouts, practice and non-conference games.”
That’s why he scheduled just one game last week giving the team a week off before opening Mountain Six Conference action.
“Asheville is a well-oiled machine,” Brown said. “From top to bottom they’ve got kids who could probably start for us. They’ve been playing since they came out of the womb, but they’ve also been learning the game and they have been playing together.”
The Cougars scored a quick goal then added three more in a span of less than three and a half minutes.
“They are very physical and smart,” Brown said. “They played hard, and it showed in the first half. They scored in the first three minutes and kept knocking on the door.”
Asheville was in charge from the beginning and took 28 shots to just two by the Mustangs (8-4-1).
Justin Fleer opened the scoring at the 2:55 mark with an assist from Justin Pistor.
“The ball came in from the right side,” Brown said. “It was a through ball from Pistor in behind our defense, and Fleer had a rip from about 14 yards on the right side.”
Isaac Tuch made it 2-0 at the 27:10 mark as he scored while working a give and go with Pistor.
“Tuch fed it on the right side to Pistor, who sent it back to him, and he buried it from about 12 yards out,” Brown said.
Tuch connected again from 12 yards on the left side shooting to the far post for a 3-0 margin at the 28:55 mark.
Carlos Cavallaro had the final goal with a header at the 30:31 mark off of Fleer’s corner kick.
“It was poor marking on our part,” the coach said. “We didn’t defend the corner. Fleer played it in, and Cavallaro got a head on it.”
The teams played a scoreless second half.
“We had a talk at halftime, and our guys responded,” Brown said. “The second half was completely different. We fought with them and had a couple of nice opportunities to score but just couldn’t put it in the net. You can’t play 40 minutes. You’ve got to play a full 80.”
SM goalkeeper Zeb Sink made 14 saves. Tyler Potts played the last 15 minutes in goal and had two saves. Three Cougar goalies combined for one save.
Asheville won the JV game 6-1 dropping the Mustangs to 7-2. Gabe Kinner had SM’s lone goal. Skyler Sutton provided the assist.
Asheville had an 18-3 advantage in shots. Nathan Porter made five saves, and Carson Seagraves had two.
“This was a game that gave us insight on what we need to improve on as a team,” Coach Jonathan Parsons said. “We came out hesitant at the beginning of the game due to the prowess of Asheville’s program. They scored two early goals because we were not ready to compete. After we were able to find the net and the halftime score being 2-1, we realized that we could compete with them. Like good teams do, Asheville made adjustments at half and figured out a way to break us down in the second half. We will use this game to work on some weaknesses that were exposed as we prepare for conference play.”