Just days after Haywood County rivals Tuscola and Pisgah squared off in their annual football game, the two schools got together for a Futbol game in Canton on Monday. Tuscola boys soccer took the contest in dominating fashion, topping Pisgah 5-0.
Mountaineers (5-2-1) goalie Miekell McBride turned in a clean sheet, stopping all blank shots the Bears (1-4-1) sent his way.
“I didn’t really find it very difficult,” McBride said. “I knew that my defense and my teammates were going to help me out the whole game so I wasn’t really worried about it. But it was a good game at the end of the day and I’m really proud of my team.”
Tuscola jumped out to a 2-0 lead less than 15 minutes into the game, and took a commanding 3-0 lead into halftime.
“We finished,” said Tuscola head coach Ian Meeks. “That’s the main thing. We’ve been struggling the past couple games finishing and tonight that’s all we had to do was put the ball away. I think we finally came together, got some good shots, finished on them and used our chances.”
Tuscola freshman Ben Mehaffey opened the scoring with a beautiful goal; juking his way past a Bears defender and rifling a long shot to the opposite upper 90 to make it 1-0 Mountaineers.
“Tuscola has a good team,” said Pisgah head coach Rodney Alt. “I give them credit. They came out; they executed well. I give them credit for the win. They have a strong midfield, several guys up front that are really fast, their speed gave us problems. … They made the best of their opportunities. They had the better side, really.”
Tuscola nearly took a 2-0 lead shortly after as senior Bryan Rios broke in alone, but
Pisgah goalkeeper Alex Almaraz stepped up with perfect timing on the challenge to knock the ball away.
Tuscola doubled its lead with 25 minutes and change to play in the opening half, as sophomore Martin Tox cashed in on a rebound opportunity.
“I think we kept our composure and we just passed really well around them,” Tox said of Tuscola’s offense.
Pisgah nearly cut the lead in half a few minutes later, but senior Sergio Andres Benitez put a cross right through the crease.
The Mountaineers went up 3-0 with about 15 minutes left in the half; senior Carter Worley was left unmarked inside the 18 and put home a perfect centering feed.
Tox tallied his second of the game with 31:58 to play in the game to put the Mountaineers up 4-0.
Things got chippy with about 22 minutes to play, as some pushing and shoving led to all players on the field gathered at midfield in what eventually devolved into a brawl, as punches were thrown by both sides and multiple players were ejected.
“It was 11 on 11, it was a pretty good match up until that point,” Alt said. “I’m just really disappointed in how that happened on both sides. I told my guys we’ll take care of our discipline issues. … I talked with coach Meeks after the game; we’re going to share video, see what all happened, see what the ref saw. But I’m really disappointed that that happened because I’m really a true believer in sportsmanship and the sport of the game.”
Tuscola sophomore Felipe Portale-Rodarte capped the scoring with under 19 minutes to play, sealing a convincing win for the Mountaineers in the county rivalry.
“Last year was my first time being on the Tuscola side of it and we lost for the first time in 20 years last year,” Meeks said. “So to come back in and get this big shutout, it feels really good to kind of wash away last year.”
Tuscola will be back in action at home against A.C. Reynolds Thursday.
Pisgah will have almost a week off before hosting Highlands on Monday, Sept. 16.
“[We’re going to focus on] continuing to build team unity and consistency in our play,” Alt said. “We do show promise in the way that we’re playing but just being patient and working the ball together. Really building some cohesion, really trying to learn from our mistakes that we made.”