For about 25 minutes Friday evening it looked as though the unbeaten Pigeon Forge Tigers (8-0 overall) might be the victim of the latest Cosby Eagles (4-3-1) upset.
But, after trailing 2-0 early, the Orange and Black stormed back with what coach Bill Moseley called their best play in “about three years” to win going away 5-2.
“I couldn’t be any prouder of the kids,” the veteran coach said after the win. “We’ve been working really hard on retaining the ball and moving the ball around instead of just kicking it. More possession. And we pulled it down and possessed today and were able to make some really good passes.
“Sometimes I’ve got five freshmen out on the field, and I can’t ask for any better than that (today). (But) it’s everybody stepping up. I’ve got my captains — Joseph Dodgen and Bryan Velasquez — coming out and playing. And Cory (Fox) and Ben Vaughan came out and played. Everybody’s giving everything, and as of right now I couldn’t be happier with what’s going on.
“This is the best they’ve moved the ball in probably three years. All this week that’s all we’ve been focusing on — if you move the ball, the goals will come.”
After a slow start, the goals started coming 25 minutes in.
Freshman Nathaniel Miller, a scrappy little forward that plays like every game’s his last, flipped the ball over a defender and repossessed it, earning a one-on-one with the keeper. Miller then put the ball past the keeper to cut the Eagles’ lead to 2-1.
“I call him my little Energizer Bunny,” Moseley said of Miller. “If I had a team of kids like that, I’d go to state every year. The kid’s never played soccer before, he has all-heart and he’s giving everything he’s got. He won’t stop.”
Just before intermission, it looked as if the Tigers had tied the score, but an offsides penalty let Cosby maintain their advantage at the halftime break.
It didn’t take long into the second half for PF to find that equalizer, however.
Dodgen made a play on a crossed ball 17 minutes in to score the goal, and knotted the tally at 2-2.
From there, it was a the Bryan Velasquez show.
The Tigers’ leading scorer made three goals over the final 20 minutes to push the team out to the one-sided 5-2 victory.
“We didn’t play Bryan for a while (early),” Moseley said. “I made him sit out a little while just to see (others’ efforts), and they stepped up. This is a team effort, and I had about 20 people that went in and out, and they really gave 100 percent, and that’s what I’ve been wanting all year. It’s awesome.”
Still, the coach credited Cosby for their improvement over the past few years, which helped lead to the 2-0 lead and an early-season 5-1 upset of Gatlinburg-Pittman.
“They had a good fastbreak, and they got two (goals) off the little fastbreak,” Moseley said. “We had to shut those down, and make a couple movements, and it pretty much put a stop to it.
“(But) give Cosby their due. They’re a tough team. They’ve improved unbelievably. Whatever their coach is doing, he’s doing an excellent job. Those boys are big, and they’re fast.”