Gate City continued its fairytale start to life as a soccer school Thursday night, sweeping matches against Clinch Mountain District foe Honaker at Legion Field.
The Lady Blue Devils opened the evening with a well-deserved 4-1 win. The boys followed with a sterling — sometimes grimy — 7-0 decision.
“Great start for a first-year program,” Gate City boys coach Brad Davis said. “I would’ve never expected we could start 2-0 in the district.”
But both programs have. And both did it in style Thursday.
The boys led by two goals within the first 10 minutes, and 4-0 at intermission. Logan Byrd opened the scoring after just four minutes; he went on to record a first-half hat trick with strikes in the 10th and 38th minutes.
It was a lethal display from the sophomore, who has struggled in front of goal earlier this season.
“I told (Logan) after the Richlands game that he had let a couple of opportunities go to waste,” Davis said. “Today, he fired to the corners and was rewarded.”
Gate City (3-1, 2-0) found most of its success down the left side in the first half. Between Levi Herron and Ked Byrd, it was a nightmare for Honaker (0-2, 0-2).
Both were rewarded for their fine play with goals. Herron’s, in the 19th minute, was the product of great delivery — from Ked Byrd — and poor positioning from Tigers goalkeeper Tyler Brown. Brown saved Herron’s strike, but carried the ball over the goal line.
“Levi was a beast out there today,” Davis said. “He was after every ball. He pretty much controlled the left side by himself.”
The second half was scrappy, with tackles coming in from every angle.
Among the highlights was Ked Byrd’s scintillating scoring run in the 70th minute. It started in midfield, and ended with a host of defenders on their backsides and a finely-taken goal from two yards.
“As soon as we started the game, we went for it,” Davis said. “We put pressure on them from the opening minute. I think the guys were really fired up today.”
Much like the boys, the Lady Blue Devils were rewarded for an aggressive start.
Gate City (2-0, 2-0) could’ve had three goals in the first five minutes if not for some wayward finishing. That soon changed, thanks to some slack defending from the Lady Tigers.
Both Lady Devils goals in the first half — from Jenna Head and Blair Vaughn — directly resulted from Honaker defensive lapses.
“We didn’t come out very aggressive at all,” Lady Tigers coach Wilburn Johnson said. “I don’t know if we were tired or timid. We were just flat.”
Honaker (0-2, 0-2) pulled a goal back in the 67th minute following a 15-minute spell in which Gate City simply let off the gas. Fortunately for the Lady Blue Devils, it wasn’t costly.
Vaughn added a second to her tally six minutes from full time, skipping past a pair of defenders inside the 18-yard box before dispatching the ball through keeper Paige Tiller’s legs. Holly Musick iced the result with a goal in stoppage time.
“The girls came out really strong,” Lady Devils coach Chris Mann said. “I was real impressed with the way we came out. We fought hard in that first half.
“I got pretty nervous when they scored that goal, though. I think the girls lost a little focus there, but we picked it back up at the end.”