By Carey Phillips

Billy Ramirez scored a pair of goals, and Dawson Karup had three assists leading Smoky Mountain to a 5-0 non-conference soccer victory at East Rutherford on Labor Day.

“Our staff took a risk of giving the guys a three-day break,” Coach Stephen Brown said. “We wanted them to recover from two long weeks and five games. It was also Labor Day, so we wanted to award them extra time away from soccer.”

East entered the game with a 3-0 record, but two early goals gave the Mustangs a 2-0 halftime lead.

“It was a long trip after a long weekend, so we were concerned about bouncing back after all of that,” Brown said. “Our boys responded nicely. It was good to have a statement win against a much-improved team from last year. Our guys fought hard and played well. We are proud of their focus and effort.”

Caleb Handy opened the scoring when he took a through ball from Karup and shot from the left side about 8 yards out.

Ramirez made it 2-0 in the seventh minute.

“Billy won the ball in the box, cut inside, beat a defender and pushed it past the goalkeeper near post,” Brown said.

The lead reached 3-0 in the 51st minute when Matthew Bullock scored on a header off of Karup’s corner kick.

Brayden Stimers made it 4-0 in the 64th minute with Noah Hinton and Karup providing assists. The play started with an indirect kick played into the box.

Ramirez completed the scoring with less than a minute to play.

“It was a good hustle play by Billy,” Brown said. “He beat two defenders in the box and finished with the outside of his right foot (he is left-footed) near post.”

SM dominated play with a 17-7 advantage in shots. Zeb Sink made three saves for the Mustangs, and Ethan Richardson had six for the Cavaliers.

The Mustang JVs won 1-0. Gabe Kinner had the only goal with a penalty kick after a hand ball in the box in the 29th minute.

SM took 10 shots to East’s three. Nathan Porter and Carson Seagraves both had one save.

“The boys played well,” Coach Jonathan Parsons said. “Defensively, we played really well. We are still trying to find the back of the net. Once we got our goal, we made sure we played some sound defense.”