KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett honored its seniors Tuesday, the final day of the District 1-AAA soccer season. Among those recognized was perhaps the greatest to ever don the maroon and gray.
David Geno began his career as the lanky freshman with all the speed — and the ’fro. Four years, and a scad of goals, later, he is the school’s all-time leading scorer.
Tuesday night may be as eventful a day as he’s witnessed at D-B. Geno labored in the first half, was booked early in the second, then netted a much-needed second goal as the Indians clipped rival Sullivan South by a 2-0 scoreline at Indian Highland Park.
It was the 100th goal of Geno’s illustrious career.
“It seems like I’m still the freshman with the afro, you know,” Geno said, grinning. “Still back in those youthful days. It’s been an amazing ride.
“It was a real nice night, too. Get the win and get a goal. Nice.”
It may not have been his home farewell — the postseason awaits, with next week’s district tournament at Indian Highland Park the opening act — but it was a fitting close to another marvelous regular season. Not just for Geno, but the Indians as well.
Geno’s goal, his 26th of the season, followed fellow senior Jack Dell’s tally, after nine minutes, as the Tribe (16-0-1) remained undefeated. It wasn’t easy, though, with South proving stern opposition in what could have been an allusion to what’s to come this postseason.
“(South) came out and played great,” said Daniel Murphy, a D-B senior midfielder who combated a stomach virus throughout the match.
“We didn’t play the way we wanted to. Give them credit because they gave us all we could handle.”
The Indians dictated play from the start and, when Dell opened the scoring— thanks in large part to the industry and vision of Warren Austin, a freshman — a comfortable night appeared to be in store for the league’s regular-season champions. Not so.
South found its way back into the match at the midway point of the first half, and never strayed again. The Rebels (2-3-1 district), despite trailing, were likely the happier of the two sides at the interval.
“This is the first time I’ve seen the kids walk off with a smile on their faces,” South coach Stephen Fuchs said. “I was very happy. This is a step in the right direction.”
Tribe coach Chris Woods was visibly frustrated as the first half closed. He even confronted Geno and Dell as the team entered the dressing room.
“Effort, confidence and composure,” Woods said. “And I certainly lost my composure today.
“It starts with me. Players play like coaches coach. I got frustrated and I think that fed over to the boys.”
Whatever was said at halftime worked — if only for a few minutes. The Indians opened the second half with much more energy. But, when an early goal did not arrive, things started to unravel.
Geno picked up a yellow card for a late lunge on South sweeper Adam Fenyves after 47 minutes to open a horrible stretch of play for D-B.
It was close to 15 minutes before Geno returned to the field. Once he did, the tempo — and the momentum — changed.
His goal, in the 61st, was as direct as they come. Chase Givens’ looped ball over the top of the defense allowed Geno to display his speed. Once onto the ball, he took a touch, cut inside and sent a low drive by advancing goalkeeper Aaron Deyo and in at the near post.
“The same thing happened when we were down in Memphis. A yellow (card) sometimes fires you up. It helped me get focused,” said Geno, who scored a late leveler against Memphis University School in mid-April after being booked earlier in the match.
The focus now turns to the district tournament where the Tribe has imploded in recent years. D-B has exited postseason play, as district champions, at the semifinal stage each of the past two seasons.
“We’ve had great regular seasons the last two seasons, just like this one,” Murphy said. “We’ve got to make sure it doesn’t stop here. We’ve got to make sure we step up this postseason.”
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