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Second-half outburst lifts Rebels

April 18th, 2007 12:21 am by JACK GOODSON

BLOUNTVILLE - On first-half performance alone, the Sullivan South boys soccer team can consider itself lucky.

As it turned out, luck had nothing to do with this 4-0 victory.

Three second-half goals in 10 minutes proved the difference Tuesday night, as the Rebels handed Sullivan Central its second consecutive loss in District 1-AAA play.

"We're starting to play together as a team, and that's when we're dangerous," South coach Malora Quisenberry said.

The Cougars (5-3-0, 1-2-0), largely dominant during the first half, conceded the opening goal just before intermission. They, then, were caught off guard as the second began and never recovered.

"This came out of nowhere," Central coach Art Perry said. "They got three goals in 10 minutes. After that, it was tough to come back."

Weathering the initial storm from Central wasn't easy for South (6-2-0, 2-1-0) but, thanks in large part to some stronghold defending, the Rebels found themselves with a fourth win in five games.

Centerback Adam Griffith was heroic at the back, producing a handful of dispossessions and even more key clearances.

"He saved us quite a bit," Quisenberry said. "We would've probably been in trouble if he hadn't been back there."

Defending eventually sparked the offense, with South taking an unlikely lead in the 35th minute through Matt Gravitte.

Forward Josh Wood did well to hold off a pair of defenders near the far touchline before finding Michael Hicks at the edge of the 18-yard box. Hicks slid a pass across to Gravitte, whose blistering effort landed over the goal line after striking the crossbar.

"I can't say enough about Gravitte," Wood said.

The scoring continued almost immediately after the break.

Wood netted South's second off a throw-in, calmly slotting a shot past Central goalkeeper Sean Behne in the 41st. Wood's second - and 17th of the season - came just three minutes later, lashing a low strike just inside the near post from 18 yards.

"We knew our defense had been saving us and we came out in the second half and weren't going to let them go at us," Wood said. "We felt like we had something to prove."

The Rebels capped the scoring in the 50th with a superb buildup.

Wood collected the ball near midfield. The sophomore, with his back to the goal, then flicked a pass on to Gravitte, who unleashed a shot first-time for his second of the match.

"In the first half, we weren't playing as a unit," Quisenberry said. "When we don't play as a team, you can tell."

Things got even worse for the Cougars in the 53rd minute, when Parker Camp picked up his second yellow card for language. Subsequently, he received a straight red for dissent.

Without Camp's playmaking ability in the midfield, Central suffered tremendously. The Cougars spent the rest of the half mostly on the back foot.

"That's part of soccer. He's out for (David) Crockett, too," said Perry, referring to the Cougars' next game. It definitely hurt us."

It also left Central ruing missed opportunities, most coming in the first half.

Camp had an audacious effort from 40 yards sail past the far post, while Bennett Becker dragged a shot from point-blank range wide.

In the 31st minute, Central produced its finest chance of the contest. Camp picked out Kenneth Long, whose back-heel fell right into the path of Amos Muncie. Muncie struck well, but to the wrong side of the near post.

"Just some unlucky shots and some great saves," Perry said.

"We're on the hill right now. We're just climbing up that hill and hopefully we'll make a strong run going into the district (tournament)."

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