The Highlands varsity soccer team tied at a non-conference home game against Smoky Mountain by a score of 2-2 on Aug. 29. This comes shortly after a tough loss to Franklin in a non-conference game of 2-0 on Aug. 24.
The Franklin game proved to be a physical game for the Highlanders. Head Coach Brett Lamb said Highlands has been working on building their physical strength but could not pull off the win.
“They’re the type of team that’s plays physical, and they’re skilled with the ball,” said Lamb. “You need to be in the best shape to play like that. These guys (Highlanders) are getting there, they get stronger and more experienced every day.”
Senior Jake Billingsley caught a soccer cleat to the face after heading the ball out of the Highlanders’ penalty box preventing even more points on the board for Franklin.
“They had some split-second breakthroughs we couldn’t stop,” said Billingsley. “It’s usually that physical when we play Franklin, it just didn’t go our way that game.”
Other defensive powerhouses included Freddie Lopez clearing the ball out of Highlands’ territory, and goalie Ethan Tate who made multiple diving saves throughout the game.
“When you dive you have to be able to go for it,” said Tate. “Plus I trusted my defense to keep the ball in front of them so they didn’t get beat.”
Tate added that he’s going to work on communicating better with the defense.
Destin Gearhart took several of the penalty kicks throughout Franklin’s game and said multiple factors are involved in deciding when to shoot for the goal or pass the ball up.
“It depends on which side of the field I’m on and how many people are in the (penalty) box to get the ball,” said Gearhart. “But if the goalie’s slow, I’m shooting it.”
Gearhart added that he expects to perform better next time the Highlanders face Franklin.
“We didn’t markup that much in the first half,” he said. “And we weren’t ready for the physicality of it, they played well.”
Junior Dillon Schmitt said Franklin played better and agreed with Gearhart that the Highlanders didn’t markup on the field. However, he’s confident they’ll do well when they face Franklin later this season.
“We’re going to do better, we have some time to work on things and we’ll be ready next time,” said Schmitt.
The Highlanders play next away at Murphy at 6 p.m. on Sept. 6.
Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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