KINGSPORT - The District 1-AAA boys soccer season opened Tuesday with a local derby of sorts.
Sullivan South played host to city rival Dobyns-Bennett in an affair short on goals but heavy on intensity.
Freshman forward David Geno scored in his debut, and the Indians held off a late surge from the Rebels to carve out a 1-0 league win.
It was D-B's third consecutive victory over South, but a performance coach Bill McCloskey wasn't particularly pleased with.
"By far, the field was the best player of the day," McCloskey said. "It's a shame that's a factor in all of this, but it is.
"On this field, I'm happy to get out of here with a win," he added. "Nothing seemed to work today."
The Tribe, despite a host of scoring chances, never looked likely to add to its tally, while South hardly had a sniff of goal.
Geno's strike, in the 12th minute, was the sole product of miscommunication along the Rebels' backline.
Exploiting the dimensions of South's field, the Indians abandoned a ball-possession approach in favor of the long ball. The strategy provided a bevy of problems for the Rebels, who finally succumbed to the pressure when Adam Griffith and Michael Acero both attempted to clear a rangy pass into the area.
Instead, the ball fell to Geno, who made no mistake from 10 yards, beating South goalkeeper Ben Graves at the far post.
"It felt good," Geno said. "I was a little nervous at the beginning, but just tried to play my best."
The Rebels put together a strong spell of play late in the half but, with lone striker Josh Wood serving mainly as a point man, they never really could produce a true threat.
"We know that's one of our weaknesses," said South coach Malora Quesinberry, referring to supplying support for Wood. "We have been working on that."
D-B opened the brighter of the two teams after halftime only to see impatience lead to missed chances. Geno could've doubled his tally on two occasions - in the 54th and 57th minutes - but rushed his first effort before Griffith, who was outstanding at center back, cleared the last off the line.
"We got lots of balls through, we just couldn't finish," McCloskey said.
South rallied over the final 10 minutes, producing a pair of shots on goal - its only two of the match. Neither was threatening, but the intent was unmistakable.
"We need to work on our fitness, but we worked the ball around really well and kept our heads in the game," Quesinberry said. "We just need to finish better."
The last real action of the match came in the 78th when Graves tipped Tribe midfielder Eric Hammonds' curling 20-yard free kick over the crossbar.
"You have to play here so you walk away with whatever you get," McCloskey said. "We got a win and that's the bottom line.
"We've got Tennessee High Friday so it's back to the drawing board. We've got to get that second victory."