By Carey Phillips
Dawson Karup scored three goals leading Smoky Mountain to a 6-2 Mountain Six Conference soccer victory over East Henderson on Oct. 28 at Carr Hooper Stadium/Babe Howell Field.
With the Senior Night win, the Mustangs clinched at least a share of first place in the Mountain Six Conference and the league’s top seed into the state 2-A playoffs.
“What a special Senior Night,” Coach Stephen Brown said. “I couldn’t be prouder of these guys and what they’ve put into the program the past four years. What they and their families have sacrificed came to a culmination.”
Billy Ramirez opened the scoring 4:35 into the game on a play that started with Noah Hinton’s free kick. Shawn Byfield also had an assist.
“Noah took the free kick, and Shawn got a touch on it over to Billy, who buried it,” Coach Brown said. “It was a great play all-around.”
The Eagles tied it at the 29:14 mark on Cris Cervantes’ goal off of a rebound.
Karup’s penalty kick after a foul in the box with 6:53 elapsed in the second half gave SM a 2-1 edge.
The Mustangs made it 3-1 at the 48:22 mark as Byfield scored off of a cross pass from Ryan Waliezer.
East cut the gap to 3-2 on Nery Noverono’s goal at the 55:56 mark after a ball deflected off SM goalie Zeb Sink and went right to Noverono.
Karup scored twice just 1:31 apart to put the game on ice with a 5-2 lead.
The first came at the 57:18 mark with an assist by Miguel Antonio-Perez.
“Miguel took the ball to the corner and had a nice cross into the box,” Brown said. “Dawson scored on a volley out of the air.”
The second was at 58:49 with an assist from Hinton.
“Noah took a deep free kick,” Brown said. “Dawson and a few of his teammates ran onto it, and Dawson got a touch on it.”
Brayden Stimers completed the scoring in the 64th minute with an assist from Antonio-Perez. Brown said it was a cross pass similar to the previous assist he had.
“Brayden did a great job getting to it,” the coach said.
Despite losing, East had a 16-14 edge in shots. SM’s Zeb Sink made five saves, and Tyler Potts had one. Axel Hernandez made three saves for the Eagles. Starter Jose Sepulveda had one save before leaving with an injury.
“Our crowd and student section were incredible,” Brown said. “To have our community backing us was really special. We live in a special place.”
The Mustang JVs failed to hold a 2-0 halftime lead and ended in a 2-2 tie.
SM had a 9-7 edge in shots. Carson Seagraves made one save.
Sam Hudson and Gabe Kinner scored the Mustang goals. Caleb Borchelt and Jose Ramos had assists.
“We played a really good first half and did a lot of things that gave us opportunities to score,” Coach Jonathan Parsons said. “In the second half, they capitalized on a couple of our small mistakes and got themselves back in the game. I was proud of the guys for continuing to work on things we have been doing in practice.”