By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain’s soccer team improved to 2-0 Aug. 18 with a 6-3 non-conference victory over Swain in the home-opener at Carr Hooper Stadium/Babe Howell Field.
Mauricio Hernandez scored two goals for the Mustangs. Ben Mathews and Josh Handy both had two assists and a goal.
“We did some nice things, but we also need to refine some things, especially defensively,” Coach Stephen Brown said. “They had a lot of speed up top. They live and die by the counterattack, and they are very good at it.”
SM dominated in shots 20-6. Nathan Porter and Carson Seagraves each played a half in goal for the Mustangs. Porter had SM’s lone save. Cameron Phillips made four saves for the Maroon Devils.
“Offensively, we were able to create some nice things and could have scored some more,” Brown said. “We’ve just got to finish our chances.”
Swain struck first when Landon Matz scored 4:05 into the game.
“The ball came in off a counterattack,” Brown said. “We failed to clear the ball, and he just out ran us.”
Billy Ramirez pulled the Mustangs into a 1-1 tie with an assist from Ben Mathews at the 7:08 mark.
“Ben redirected the ball to Billy from about 25 yards out, and Billy was able to have a good stroke on the ball over the keeper’s head,” the coach said.
The Devils took a 2-1 edge at the 24:34 mark on Gavin Lanning’s goal off of Matthew Gray’s assist.
“It was another missed clearance, and they took advantage of it,” Brown said.
SM got the tying goal less than a minute later when Mathews connected with an assist from Russotti at 25:26.
“Mitchell laid it across the goal box, and Ben had a nice finish,” Brown said.
The Mustangs took the lead for good at 3-2 on Handy’s goal off of Mathews’ assist at the 27:49 mark.
The play began with a corner kick.
“The ball went to Ben, who played it to Josh for a nice finish,” the coach said.
SM led 4-2 at halftime following Hernandez’s goal with Handy providing the assist at the 35:16 mark. Handy had the ball on the wing and crossed it to Hernandez, who scored from inside the 6
The Devils cut the gap to 4-3 with 6:38 gone in the second half as Matz scored with an assist from Gray.
“We kept making missed clearances,” Brown said. “Matz again ended up one on one with the keeper.”
The Mustangs quickly answered with Russotti scoring off of Jose Ramos’ corner kick making it 5-3 at the 48:46 mark.
“Mitchell went to the ball and challenged it and was able to get a foot on it,” the coach said.
Hernandez ended the scoring with an assist from Handy at the 62:50 mark.
“Josh was able to break free,” Brown said. “He played it to Mauricio for a one touch right in front of the net.”