In dire need of a lifeline, the Rebels had found one. Dobyns-Bennett, South’s opponent Sunday afternoon in the championship match of the second annual Jon Metcalf Invitational soccer tournament, was pegged back at the worst possible time.
However, rather than dwell on the negative, the Indians simply took over the match after the halftime interval. A pair of goals within the opening 10 minutes of the second half powered the Tribe to a second win over its city rival in a week, a 4-1 title-clinching victory at Eastman Park at Horse Creek.
Goals from Chase Givens, six minutes into the half, and David Geno were enough to secure D-B (10-3-2) its second Metcalf crown in two years.
“We gave up a goal at the worst time,” Tribe coach Shane Calvert said. “We told our guys at halftime that we had given them some momentum and now was the time to see what we were made of. We came out and established ourselves really early in the second half.”
Before either team had really settled into the period, Givens had scored. The sophomore, who was rewarded for his brilliant play over the weekend with a place on the Maroon Division all-tournament team, latched onto a deft pass from Geno on the right side of the penalty area. He hit straight at South goalkeeper Aaron Pinto, but the force of the strike carried it over the goal line.
Geno followed with a superb piece of individual work just three minutes later. Bombing down the left channel, the junior striker shunned two defenders, cut into the box and struck back across goal to beat Pinto. Geno was named the Maroon Division’s most outstanding player after tallying six goals and three assists in four matches.
“D-B was very smart about capitalizing on their opportunities,” South coach Stephen Fuchs said. “They did a really good job of it, and we didn’t capitalize on ours.”
The first half of play was much like the second — sans Agner’s goal. It was, however, very different from the teams’ previous contest. This time around, the Indians, instead of simply controlling the match, had something to show for it.
Christian Morales opened the scoring after 25 minutes, profiting from a melee in front of goal to net from close range. Daniel Murphy provided D-B with a second in the 33rd, taking a Greg Vogel pass and depositing it past Pinto with a classy half-lob from 20 yards.
“We’re usually a second-half team, but today we played from the start,” said Morales, who was also named to the all- tournament team along with Cory O’Neil. “We played as a team today.”
South (10-2-1) wasn’t going away, though. Jordan Willingham sparked the Rebels’ late first-half revival, first chasing down what looked to be a hopeless cause before lofting the ball from the touchline to the far post. Agner met it with venom, leaving Tribe keeper Jesse Jenkins no chance.
Yet, while the Rebels had wrestled momentum from the Tribe, they couldn’t sustain it. Still, it was a fine tournament for South according to Fuchs.
“This (tournament) is a big cornerstone for us,” the coach said. “We grew up as a team this weekend and I think we’re ready for the postseason now.”
D-B isn’t thinking postseason just yet. The Indians have a pair of District 1-AAA matches left, including a potential league decider Tuesday against Tennessee High in Bristol.
They’ll likely have to do it without one of their key pieces. Craig Mitcham left the game four minutes into the second half with what appeared to be a serious injury to his right knee. The senior midfielder was seen on crutches following the match.
“We have a player that’s meant a lot to the team that’s a little banged up right now,” Calvert said. “We’ve got to prepare to go on without him. We’re going to wish for the best.
“Tuesday’s huge for us,” he added. “If we can get a result on Tuesday, we’ll win the conference. That’s a goal of ours.”