Special to the MDN – The Swain High Men’s Soccer team traveled to Murphy on Thursday night to kickoff their first conference game of the season. The Devils have won the conference championship for the past two years and are in hopes of continuing that trend. It would be a game where the Devils would take a total of 26 shots on the night.
Just 7 and a half minutes into the game the Bulldogs would get on the scoreboard first as they passed the ball through the Devils’ back line. It would take the Devils 22 minutes to answer after numerous shot attempts. Junior Owen Craig would steal the ball from a Bulldog player, dribble between multiple defenders and score from 30 yards out tying the game 1-1. Just 3 minutes later Sophomore Clayton Shuler would take the ball to the corner and drop it back to Senior Matthew Gray who would fire a shot in from 18 yards out putting the Devils up 2-1. With 2 and a half minutes left in the first half Senior Gavin Rowland would take a throw down the line to Gray who would score his second goal of the game. The half would end with the Devils up 3-1.
The first 30 minutes of the second half would be a defensive standoff as neither team could find the back of the net. With 10 minutes left in the game Sophomore Defender Max Wilmot would send a ball forward with Gray receiving it at midfield. Gray would dribble the ball 60 yards and sneak it in right past the goalkeeper giving Gray a hat trick for the night. The game would end with the Devils taking the 4-1 win. “We played a good game overall. It was great to kick off conference play with a good road win.” said Head Coach Scott Cline. “We had quite a few players step up in the game. Some were man marked and some were even marked by two players by the end of the game.”
On the Defensive side Senior Canon Helpman led the team with 25 Clears/Steals. He was followed by Sophomore Brendan Lanning with 15, Sophomore Max Wilmot with 11 and Senior Spencer Rowland with 8. In goal Senior Cameron Phillips recorded 8 goalkeeper saves. The Player of the Game for the Devils was Senior Matthew Gray. “Matthew has really stepped it up the last few games. You can see his determination and drive coming out and it is helping him to be a major role player on our team.” said Cline. Next week the Devils continue conference play as they are on the road at Blue Ridge on Monday at 4:00 and then on Wednesday they will host Andrews at 6:00.