GATE CITY — Neth Gardner scored two brilliant second-half goals to lead Gate City to a 3-0 victory over Union in a Clinch Mountain District matchup Wednesday at Legion Field.
Earlier, the Lady Blue Devils cruised to an 8-0 win over the Lady Bears.
For the first time this season, the Gate City boys failed to score a first-half goal. The pesky Bears (6-8-0) played a physical game against the Blue Devils (14-0-0) and kept them off balance in the first half.
Union limited Gate City to just one shot on goal in the first 40 minutes and the teams went to the halftime break knotted at 0.
“We hadn’t had anyone body up against us like that all year,” said Gate City coach Eric Baker. “It was a good test, something I think we needed.”
Without standout Caleb Herron, who was resting a pulled muscle, the Blue Devils shifted their lineup around. Some halftime adjustments from Baker opened things up for his squad.
In the 55th minute, Gardner took a pass from Tanner Alley and slipped the ball past Union goalkeeper Brandon Watts for a 1-0 lead. Seven minutes later, Gardner ran through the Bears’ defense and headed a bouncing ball into the net, upping the edge to 2-0.
“At halftime coach told us to keep things simple and to keep our energy up,” said Gardner. “The way we played in the second half should give us confidence.”
The Blue Devils’ Nick Bowen provided the final margin of victory with a snappy goal in the 70th minute. Gate City had 10 shots on goal in the second half.
“We pushed hard the whole game,” said Union coach Mark Castle. “Every game is a learning experience for us. The kids are eager right now, they want so much to get better.”
In the girls' game, Santana Bishop and Megan Edwards each had two goals and an assist while Madi Garrett added two goals.
Edwards opened the scoring for the Lady Blue Devils in the eighth minute. Mary Jones curved a corner kick into the Union goal three minutes later and Gate City (13-0-1) was off and running.
It was 4-0 after just 20 minutes of play. After halftime, the Lady Blue Devils added another four goals.
“As a first-year program we’re having our growing pains,” said Union coach Stephanie Cornett, whose squad is now 3-15-1. “But we’ve come a long way since the start of the season.”
Overall, Gate City coach Chris Mann was pleased with the outing.
“We got to work a lot of players into the game, which is important this time of year,” said Mann. “I do think our communication on the back line needs to improve. But right now the girls are playing very well.”