KNOXVILLE — Ray Dover had to breathe a sigh of relief late last week. Dover, Farragut High School’s boys soccer head coach, expected a tussle when he and the Admirals invaded Bill Wilson Field.
“We knew that this was going to be a battle,” Dover said after the Ads notched a 3-2 non-district victory over one-time District 4-AAA rival Knoxville West Thursday, March 28, along Sutherland Avenue. “Honestly, we’ve got to learn how to play in different environments.
“We’ve got to be prepared for either a dance or a street fight and this was more of a street fight. On these smaller pitches (football fields]), we don’t play our game. Somebody wins a 50/50 ball and then flicks a shot. That’s not our game. We’re a possession team. I think we controlled the game. We won the game. We survived, and now we just have to work on these things on the training ground.”
The Admirals, who improved to 5-2 with the win, got off to a fast start as they tallied twice in the first six minutes of the match.
FHS took a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute when Pablo Herrera beat Rebels’ goalkeeper Carter McAdoo on a shot.
The Ads continued to keep up the pressure early and they extended their advantage to 2-0 on a goal by Wes Jeter.
But West, which dropped its first match of the season, would answer.
The Rebels (5-1) pulled to within 2-1 when Henry Hodge tallied in the 15th minute. They would pull even a short time later when Josh Stevens, a sophomore defender, scored the equalizer in the 22nd minute.
The match remained knotted until the 39th minute.
It was then that Jeter converted a penalty kick after West was called for a handball in the goal box. That would prove to be the game-winning goal, as the defense and McAdoo and Farragut senior netminder Brandon Keane stole the show.
McAdoo made five stops after halftime and Jake Spirko, the Rebels’ freshman backup, made a point-blank save after McAdoo was given a yellow card and had to temporarily leave the match.
Keane stopped all six shots he saw over the final 40 minutes.
Like Dover, Jeter was far from pleased with Farragut’s effort.
“We really need to work on things, especially set pieces on these short fields,” Jeter said. “We just can’t have the lulls like we had tonight.
“We have to keep playing with the same energy all the time. If we do that, things will take care of themselves and we’ll be OK," he added
West head coach Alex Walls was disappointed after watching his squad drop its first match of the 2019 campaign.
“This is the first time that these guys have been on the wrong side of one of these things this year,” Walls said. “This is a special bunch of guys and I’m happy with their effort.
“Their effort has been there all year against some good teams. We’ve held one-goal leads and defended corners with 30 seconds left. This was an even game between two good teams, but I hope they let this settle in and remember how this feels.
Farragut is a good team and they’re not in our district anymore, so if we see them again, it’ll be later," he added. "But we’ve got to take care of our business first.”