Smoky Mountain defeats Owen High in boys soccer season opener
The Smoky Mountain High School boys soccer team handed the Owen Warhorses their first loss of the season, 2-1 Aug. 16 on their home turf.
"We've got a lot of really good players," Owen coach David Fiest said. "We've got some good players returning, we've got a lot of talented players that have come in, and then we've got a lot of returning players who've grown; they've improved quite a bit."
Although the Owen defenders came out strong, they weren't able to stop the header goal from Smoky Mountain's Silas McPherson that came more than halfway through the first half.
But Owen's Harrison Kendall scored with three minutes left in the half to tie the game 1-1.
The two Owen center backs started for the first time as varsity players. Fiest said he was very happy to see how well they played, given that they were new to the team.
After the break, Smoky Mountain's Ben Matthews scored the team's second goal around the 53-minute mark. Both teams battled it out, repeatedly stealing the ball from one another before a breakaway could gain momentum.
In the last five minutes, the Warhorses put in one final effort with an impressive series of back-to-back shots in a last-chance effort to close the gap in points. Multiple saves were made by the Smoky Mountain keeper while a few close-range and long shots went wide of the goal.
Despite this final effort, the home team was not able to recover and lost, 2-1. Fiest, as well as the players, applauded their opponents' effort.
Fiest said the challenge the team faces going into the season is figuring out chemistry. While the returning players have showed significant improvement, the new members must now work to play well together as a unit.
"Chemistry is probably the thing that I've been preaching the most," Fiest said. "Having a team full of talented players, my goal is to find a way for these players to mesh."
Two days later, on Aug. 18, Owen defeated Enka 3-1, moving its overall record to 1-1.
Fiest spoke to the pressure of starting at a varsity level, of the difference it makes for a lot of the players, even though most have been playing together for a while. He said the goal for the team this season is not to go undefeated, but rather to utilize the season as a chance to grow and prepare for the playoffs.
"Our goal is to win conference and prepare ourselves for the state playoffs," Fiest said.
The next home game is 6 p.m. Aug. 30 against Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy.