GATLINBURG, Tenn. – Four goals, goal line clearances, shots off the frame, missed chances, overturned calls … the Coppell (Texas) and McCallie School (Chattanooga, Tenn.) boys soccer showdown at the Smoky Mountain Cup had a little bit of everything.
Everything, that is, except a winner.
Wyatt Priest finished a set piece from Parker McClure with just under 9 minutes left to lift Coppell into a 2-2 tie with McCallie School in the first-ever SIMA FAB 50 crossover match. Coppell (14-2-2), and in its final week of regular season play, is ranked No 12 in the Winter SIMA FAB 50. McCallie (1-0-1), and in its first week of regular season play, is No. 3 in the Spring SIMA FAB 50.
Coppell coach Chad Rakestraw benched three of the team’s top four players for violation of team rules, yet the Cowboys showed their depth, having no problem playing an even game with McCallie on a narrow field in near-freezing temperatures.
In other matches Thursday, Spring SIMA FAB 50 No. 19 Christian Brothers (Memphis, Tenn.) defeated a depleted Greeneville (Tenn.) 3-1, host Gatlinburg-Pittman (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) routed Cosby (Tenn.), Lausanne (Tenn.) handled Pigeon Forge (Tenn.) 7-2 and Chuckey-Doak (Tenn.) defeated Knoxville Ambassadors 2-0.
Kyle Snyder, Connor DeFreece and Bradley Pounds scored for Christian Brothers. Greeneville, one of the state’s top small-school programs, played without four regulars who had to miss the competition since they competed in a club event earlier in the week.
Coppell struck first, only seven minutes into the game, on a goal by Bennett Hunter. Northwestern signee Drew Viscomi converted a penalty kick to draw McCallie even only three minutes later. The score stayed that way until Harrison Swank ripped a shot into the side panel putting McCallie ahead 2-1 with 12 minutes left.
Priest’s game-tying goal seemed fitting for an otherwise even contest.
McCallie had breakaways that broke down, Coppell had two shots hit the frame, McCallie defenders twice cleared balls off the line that were destined for the goal. However, the most bizarre sequence occurred with 28 minutes remaining and the match tied at 1. Coppell was awarded a penalty kick. Priest clanged the shot off the crossbar and after a McCallie defender unsuccessfully tried to clear the ball, Priest pounced on the opportunity and scored. At first, Coppell was awarded the goal. McCallie coaches argued that Priest could not be the first player to touch the ball after a failed penalty kick. The officials conferred. Rakestraw confirmed that the goal should not be allowed, which drew applause for the act of sportsmanship, so the call was overturned and the game moved forward tied at 1.
After that sequence, however, the intensity and level of play ramped up a notch, leading to an entertaining final 30 minutes.
With games running at the same time on different fields, it is impossible to watch all of the play. That said, the following players witnessed by TDS staff turned in strong performances Thursday.
D Jeremy Basso, Coppell (Texas), Soph.: He started off a bit shaky, but ended up saving Coppell on several occasions. He covered well.
M Jacob Capdevila, Coppell (Texas), Sr.: Although he didn’t have the finishing touch, his speed stretched McCallie’s defense.
F/M Josue Gomez, Gatlinburg-Pittman (Tenn.), So.: Everything runs through Gomez for GP, and he scored a pair of goals, as well. He will be a player to watch moving forward.
D/M Philip Martin, McCallie School (Tenn.), Sr.: Martin turned in the top all-around performance for McCallie. He drew the foul that gave McCallie a PK, taken by Drew Viscomi, for the first goal. Later his cross attempt was knocked out of bounds, giving McCallie a corner kick that ultimately led to the team’s second goal. Martin bounced around between both outside back spots and both outside mid spots during the match.
M Parker McClure, Coppell (Texas), Sr.: McClure took all of Coppell’s set pieces, and just about every one led to dangerous situations. Midway through the match, McClure hit the ground hard, knocking his shoulder out of place. It popped back in and after a short trip to the bench, he was cleared by the trainer and was back in the game.
F Wyatt Priest, Coppell (Texas), Jr.: This Priest was the best player on the field Thursday night. The big-time prospect came on as a second-half sub and was a game-changer. His quick burst made his touch to defend. He played smart balls to teammates. And to cap it off, he converted the final goal to salvage a tie between national powers.
F Drew Viscomi, McCallie School (Tenn.), Sr.: The Northwestern signee struck a perfectly placed penalty kick for McCallie’s first goal. He was limited in his chances, but was clearly dangerous every time the ball was at his feet.