There was no doubting that Walker Valley’s Mustangs had their heads in the game Thursday evening when hosting Soddy-Daisy.
In fact, the Mustangs’ 2-1 District 5-AAA win over the Trojans was solid proof that their heads were right where they needed to be, as their two goals were scored off of headers.
“This was an early game for us as far as district play goes. To get them early was a good challenge for us,” Walker Valley coach Tom Bayliss stated.
The Mustangs have already been noticed by other coaches in the area, with the consensus being that they are the surprise team to watch this season in the district.
A solid 80 minutes of play against the Trojans on Thursday only added further fuel to that fire.
“I was hoping we’d go unnoticed, but we’ll take it. We’ve talked a lot about culture, attitudes and making a name for ourselves, so if people are talking about us, that’s the direction we want to keep going in,” Bayliss commented.
The first goal of the evening came 30 minutes into the game, and was scored by an opportunistic Soddy-Daisy team.
“We played well and had changed to a bit of a different formation. Our last guy back slipped. We had it covered, were doing good things and then literally slipped. Soddy was able to put the ball away and make us pay for it,” Bayliss explained.
The Mustangs were able to tie things up in the final minutes of the half.
Andrew Hannah capitalized off of a free kick by Sam Gibson, heading the ball past the Soddy keeper.
About 10 minutes after halftime, another header ricocheted past the Trojan’s keeper, this time coming off the noggin of Blayne Carroll. Jolen West’s corner kick is what initiated the scoring play.
“Intensity is a big thing. We know that we have some talent, but we talk about intensity,” Bayliss said. “Today we came out with it, and then it grew as the game went on. We got stronger, possessed more and had better movement. It’s a matter of using the talent we have, but then adding the work ethic and intensity.”
The Mustangs’ intensity was well-reflected in their shots on goal. While Soddy-Daisy has seven shots, Walker Valley registered 14 shots on goal.
“We’re getting opportunities, we’ve just got to stick them. When we start finishing it’s going to be that much better for us,” Bayliss declared.
Mustang keeper Skyler Swafford finished the game with five saves, and Coach Bayliss noted a number of other players whose efforts were impressive.
“Andrew Hannah and Blayne Carroll got the goals for us, but other standouts were Logan Manning and Mason Seavey, who are both freshman, played wingbacks for us and did great. They were very tough to beat all day long, winning headers and [the] ball out of the air,” Bayliss stated.
Due to spring break, Walker Valley will not be back in action until March 31 when it traversed the county to take on Bradley Central.
MUSTANGS 2, TROJANS 1
Halftime score: 1-1. Goals: Andrew Hannah, Blayne Carroll (WV). Assists: Sam Gibson, Jolen West (WV). Record: Walker Valley 3-2, 1-0 District 5-AAA; Soddy-Daisy 1-5, 0-1.