KINGSPORT — So displeased was Sullivan South boys soccer coach Stephen Fuchs with his team’s first-half display Friday that he chose not to address the team at the interval.
It worked. To an extent.
Joey Edwards netted the lone goal of the match 11 minutes into the second half, and the Rebels escaped with a pedestrian 1-0 win against Elizabethton.
“The most disappointing thing is the fact that we played phenomenally on Tuesday (Daniel Boone) and had a great day of training yesterday,” Fuchs said. “Technically, we were bad and mentally, we just weren’t there.”
The opening 15 minutes were perhaps too comfortable for the Rebels (4-4-1), who could have capped their early superiority with a goal in the 13th if not for a goal-line clearance. Instead, they found themselves largely on the back foot as the half closed.
South goalkeeper Aaron Deyo somehow managed to scramble back onto his line to deny Clayton Hardin after 21 minutes. Hardin again was involved two minutes later, his deflected shot nearly falling for Colton Oaks unmarked at the back post.
Two more chances arrived before halftime for the Cyclones (4-4-2) — the last, five minutes from time, to an unaware Oaks who failed to react as the ball clipped his shin and rolled out of play from two yards.
“The game kind of went in waves,” Elizabethton coach Bill McClay said. “They had momentum early then, towards the end of the first half, we had it. Just a little mistake cost us there in the second half.”
That mistake, at 51 minutes, proved fatal. A moment of indecisiveness from the Cyclones’ pair of central defenders — against what probably should have been a comfortable crossing pass to handle — allowed Adam Fenyves to eliminate both defenders from the play with simple pressure.
The resulting melee allowed the ball to trickle through to Edwards at the back stick. All alone with keeper Steven Irmeger, it was a simple finish.
South’s overall play improved following the goal, but it still had to hold on late. Elizabethton’s best chance of the match came 10 minutes from full time, a Rebel giveaway allowing David LaPorte — a constant threat Friday — the freedom of the left side of the field. He cut inside a defender and attempted an audacious chip from 18 yards, one that rattled the crossbar.
“This was almost exactly what happened the last time (we played),” said Fuchs, whose side drew 2-2 with Elizabethton earlier this season. “The good thing about this game is that the guys realize they played badly.
“I think they realize it and will respond. Tomorrow at training will be a big day for us. I expect us to bounce back.”