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Greene Devils shake off slow start to blank Rebels

By TANNER COOK tcook@johnsoncitypress.com • May 10, 2018 at 9:59 PM

GREENEVILLE — The Greeneville Greene Devils are the defending state champions for a reason.

They flexed their muscles on Thursday afternoon at Burley Stadium with an impressive 6-0 win over Sullivan South in the District 1-AA boys soccer finals.

“We frustrated them at times in the first half and we had some chances. We needed to connect on some passes here and there,” South head coach Keith Parker said. “I thought we played hard. They are a top-notch program we’re playing against and credit to them. They are one of the top three teams in the state.”

SOUTH HOLDS ITS OWN

The Rebels (12-5) early on were frustrating the champs with suffocating defense on the back line. It seemed like five or six Rebels were around every time the Devils got the ball into the middle of the field.

However, when South cleared the ball, the Rebels could not turn it into offense on the break. The Greene Devils were simply too quick.

GREENEVILLE TAKES CHARGE

The Greene Devils (16-2-1) finally woke up a little over halfway into the first half when Garrin Shuffler whipped a header off a corner kick into the net for the first goal of the game in the 26th minute.

John Stewart added to the total with another goal in the 33rd minute to give Greeneville a commanding 2-0 lead at the half.

The Greene Devils absolutely had the advantage in the time of possession department, as it was rare for South to get the ball across the midfield stripe in the first half.

SECOND-HALF HIGHLIGHTS

The Greene Devils started the second half with a lot of poise and swagger. It translated to four second-half goals that ultimately killed the Rebels’ hopes of an upset bid.

Cade Miles and J.P. Elyze-Vital both scored early in the second half for the Greene Devils while Ryan Thompson added the final two goals in the closing minutes before the game was called due to lightning in the area.

Of the 10 shots Greeneville took in the second half, it connected on four of them.

“It feels good to get the first step and get home field advantage out of the way,” said Greeneville head coach Jerry Graham. “We came out in the second half and we wanted to be more patient. We wanted to work the width of the field since (South) was compacting the middle. It says a lot that the defense gets a clean sheet and how good the back line was. We’ve got some new teams that have moved down, so it’s going to be tough going forward.”

NUMBERS NEVER LIE

While the Rebels were in the match at the half, they had a tough time creating offense, and that ultimately came back to bite them.

South finished with zero shots on the day and one corner kick, which was at the beginning of the game.

Mason Armstrong had six saves for Sullivan South.

If Greeneville did have one glaring stat, it was that four Devils received a yellow card during the course of the match.

UP NEXT

Greeneville will host the winner of Sevier County and Pigeon Forge on Tuesday night at Burley Stadium while runner-up Sullivan South will travel to the winner of the aforementioned matchup.

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