Smoky Bear soccer tournament begins
Teams from across the county gathered together with beautiful weather Thursday for the first night of the Smoky Bear Soccer Tournament in Sevierville.
The homestanding Smoky Bears netted a 2-0 win over The King’s Academy in the tournament opener, while Gatlinburg-Pittman fell to Heritage 1-0 on the adjacent field.
See Saturday’s edition of The Mountain Press for coverage of the late games Thursday, including Pigeon Forge versus Seymour, and Friday evening’s contests.
Bears take down Lions
It took 68 minutes, but a ball finally found a net in the Bears’ 2-0 win over TKA.
Both teams battled for possession and control for most of the game, but Sevier County drew first blood late on a breakaway goal from freshman Connor Rytz.
“Records don’t matter with these teams, in the county it’s going to be a battle. It always will, always has been,” Sevier County coach Bryan Atchley said. “They came out and took it to us. They did a real nice job of making us try to move the ball up top, and we struggled early. Then we kind of got it, but just couldn’t finish.”
“We got tired at time, I think, in the heat.”
At intermission, Atchley said he talked to his team about using their speed.
“We had been moving the ball, but we talked about moving the ball and then putting pressure,” the coach said.
Twelve minutes before the final whistle, they got just that from freshman defender Connor Rytz, who took the ball up the right sideline and dashed in for the go-ahead goal.
“Connor took it upon himself, and he showed tonight when he wants to make things happen from the back (he can),” Atchley said.
Just minutes later another freshman, Chance Arnold, put it on ice with another score.
“We had two freshmen tonight step it up,” Atchley said. “That second goal really gave us some breathing room.”
Across the facility, the Gatlinburg-Pittman Highlanders were having difficulty with a tough bunch from Heritage.
The Mountaineers scored a goal early in the second half to break a scoreless tie, and went on to win 1-0 for their first victory of the season.
“We went and scouted them, and they’re playing well, they just play in a really, really tough district with Bearden and Farragut, all of those teams,” G-P coach Zach Schrandt said. “They’re better than you’d think, just because they’re playing quality competition day-in and day-out.
“We’ve just got to get better, unfortunatley since spring break we’ve taken three steps backwards, and we did this same thing last year at this tournament. We’ve got to get it fixed.”
Late in the second half, junior forward Harrison Genseal made a nice play to get an opportunity to tie the game, but Heritage keeper Ben Sternburg made a nice play to keep the Mountaineers’ clean sheet.
“Unfortunatley, that may have been our only opportunity,” Schrandt said. “We didn’t create much. I don’t know if it’s the heat — I don’t know what it is right now, in the midfield we’re just struggling to control the ball like we were.”