It was a tale of two halves, emphatically separated by a player scuffle, when the Walker Valley Mustangs played host to the Soddy-Daisy Trojans in some District 5-AAA soccer action.
Soddy-Daisy controlled the first half with zeal, controlling the ball with ease and peppering the Mustang goal with shots and wracking up four goals. Yet, it was almost all Walker Valley in the second half as the team started playing solid soccer and maintaining the ball well.
However, four goals was far too great a deficit to overcome, and in the end it was the Trojans who walked off the field victorious in a 4-1 final.
“It was nice to see us play like I know we are capable of playing. We have some very talented players, but we have been in kind of a funk so far. It was fun to watch for 25 to 30 minutes,” stated Walker Valley head coach Tom Bayliss.
The Trojans got things started early, putting a shot on goal before four minutes had a chance to come off the game clock.
Walker Valley tried to answer with shots five minutes in and in the 10th minute of play, but it was a whole lot of Soddy-Daisy through most of the first half.
In the 13th minute a Trojan forward juked his way past the Mustang’s keeper to put a slow roller in the net and put the visitors up 1-nil.
For their part, the Mustangs found some success pushing the ball past midfield, but the long passes typically only found waiting Soddy-Daisy defenders who were all too happy to clear the ball and end the threat.
With seven minutes left in the first half a Trojan strike was deflected by Walker Valley’s keeper only to rebound to the feet of another forward who took advantage of the empty goal to make the score 2-nil.
Five minutes later a Soddy-Daisy cross in the box reversed the ball and caught the home club off guard, allowing the third goal to find the back of the home net.
The Trojans had one more up their sleeve before the half came to a close when one of their speedsters caught the ball in space and easily punched one last goal through to bring things to 4-nil.
It was a completely different match in the second half. In the very first possession of the new half Caio Hysinger broke open in the Soddy-Daisy box and pushed a ball just wide, missing the goal by inches.
During the 45th minute of play emotions of the game got the better of some players as a heated scrap broke out among numerous members of both squads.
When the dust settled, six players had been sent off. The Trojans earned a red card and two yellows for their participation and Walker Valley was shown three yellows.
Tides changed with the altercation, and the Mustangs took on a whole new persona. Possession quickly began to favor the home team as the game progressed.
“It might have had an impact on us. Our intensity didn’t really pick up, but the control of the game changed. We knocked the ball around, made a few passes and a few good runs,” Bayliss said.
Marcus Houston prevented the shutout in the 64th minute when he scored. Soddy-Daisy’s keeper deflected a first Walker Valley volley, and Houston seized the opportunity by putting the ball through the posts for the lone Walker Valley goal.
The Mustangs had numerous looks as the match came to a close, but were unable to capitalize on them.
Despite not coming away with more scores the Walker Valley offense looked impressive in the second half as it moved the ball well and exploited holes in the Soddy-Daisy backfield.
“We could have created a little more, but what we did was maintain possession for probably 75 percent of the second half. It’s absolutely something to build on,” Bayliss explained.
But, it was going to take more than 40 minutes of good soccer to make up for a four-goal disadvantage, and when the whistles sounded it was the Trojans who were able to walk off with a 4-1 win.
Next the Mustangs will welcome in Sequoyah on Monday for a match at 6 before heading to McMinn later in the week to make up a match that was rained out earlier in the season.