Bryson City (Special to the MDN) – It was quite the eventful Saturday and Monday for the Swain High Men’s Soccer team. The Maroon Devils were holding on to a one game lead over Highlands Highlanders and the Murphy Bulldogs going into the weekend. To win the conference championship outright they would have to beat Highlands at Highlands on Saturday and the Cherokee Braves on Monday night for Senior night.
On Saturday it was a very hard-fought game for the Devils at Highlands. “We always know when we go to Highlands it will be a tough game.” Said Head Coach Scott Cline. Just 15 minutes into the game the Devils would get on the scoreboard first when Sophomore Matthew Gray would find Sophomore Landon Matz for a goal. With one-minute left in the first half, Senior Zachary Cline would find Gray for a score making it 2-0 at halftime. With 8 minutes left in the second half the Highlanders would score off a corner kick. Two minutes later Highlands would make a long throw and score off of it. Regulation would end with the score tied 2-2 and force the two teams to play two overtime periods. With a few minutes left in the second overtime period Cline would find Matz for a goal. The Devils would hold off the Highlanders putting them one step closer to a conference title.
On Defense, Sophomore Lucas Trantham would lead the way with 12 Clears/Steals, followed by Junior Levi Trantham and Senior Booth Bassett each with 10, and Senior Chase Burrell with 9. In goal Senior Noel Wolf would have 6 Saves. The Player of the Game was Senior Booth Bassett. “Booth really stepped it up in this game and really made a positive impact on the team.” said Cline.
Going into Monday night’s game the Devils knew they had a lot riding on the game. If they beat Cherokee then they would clinch the Smoky Mountain conference championship. If they lost then they might have to play a tie breaker game. Before the game the seven Seniors were recognized for their time as a Maroon Devil. Each Senior was given a Maroon Hard Hat with their number to thank them for their hard work in representing Swain High. They spent a good portion of their season doing a book study on The Hard Hat: 21 Ways to be a Great Teammate. The Devils left no doubt that they would be conference champions on this Senior Night.
Swain would get on the board first just four minutes into the game when Senior Dhruv Senghani would find Sophomore Gavin Lanning for a goal. Two minutes later Senior Zachary Cline would find Sophomore Landon Matz for a goal. Eight minutes later Senghani would find Cline for another goal. With 12 minutes left in the half Senior Chase Burrell would pass the ball to Senghani who would chip the ball over the goalkeeper’s head. A few minutes later Burrell would find Matz for another goal. With nine minutes left in the first half, Cline would find Matz for a goal. Matz would find Senior Booth Bassett a few minutes later to finish off the goal scoring for the half. In the second half Burrell would find Cline for another goal. After this 8th goal on the day, the Seniors would be recognized and pulled from the game as next year’s squad was put in the game to finish the mercy rule. With 7 minutes left in the game Junior Lucas Trantham would finish the scoring.
“Overall the players came out ready to secure the conference championship and to get this win for the Seniors.” Said Head Coach Scott Cline. “Our ball movement around the field was really good.” On Defense, Senior Anthony Reyes and Sophomore Levi Trantham lead the way with 8 clears/steals, followed by Senior Chase Burrell and Sophomore Gavin Lanning with 4 each. In goal Senior Noel Wolf had 3 Saves. The Player of the Game was Chase Burrell. “Chase did a great job from his Center Mid position.” Said Cline. “He not only helped on defense, but he distributed the ball well to his teammates.”
The Devils finished conference play with a 9-1 record. Overall, they are currently 9-2, with a game on Thursday at 4:00 with 2A Smoky Mountain at home. “We are looking at this as an opportunity to prepare for the playoffs next week.” Said Cline. “We expect to play some teams very similar to Smoky in the playoffs and we feel this game will help us to get ready.” Currently Senior Zachary Cline is number 1 in the state at the 1A level with 18 Assists. Sophomore Landon Matz is currently number 2 in the state at the 1A level in goals scored with 22.