March 13, 2014

Morris Innovative boys soccer reaches big goal with win

Two years ago, Morris Innova-tive High School’s boys soccer program won a single match in its first season of varsity athletics.

Last year, the Tigers were in the running for a berth in the state playoffs before falling short.

On Thursday night at Lakeshore Park in Dalton, the Tigers delivered a statement that they are legitimate contenders with what coach Ernie Dempsey said was the program’s “signature win.”

Morris Innovative’s Mynor Bautista scored with 15 minutes remaining in the first half, and the Tigers’ defense made that lone goal stand up in a 1-0 victory over Murray County in Region 7-2A competition.

The Tigers improved to 6-4 overall and 6-3 in region play, while Murray County lost for the first time in seven matches this season, all of them against league opponents.

“It is a huge win for our program,” Dempsey said. “Beating one of the region’s big two (Calhoun and Murray County) has been a big goal and something you have to do to plant your flag as a program on the rise. It was an extremely hard-fought game for the guys tonight, and I am just so thrilled. We needed a win like that for our entire school.”

After taking the lead and controlling much of the action in the first half of the contest, Dempsey knew his defense would get a test in the second half, and that challenge came in the form of the Indians’ relentless offensive pressure.

“I told them at halftime a green (Murray County’s uniform color) tidal wave was coming and they were going to throw everything at us,” Dempsey said. “They did, and we only surrendered one good shot. Murray kept the gas on all in the second half, and they probably possessed the ball 75 percent of the time in the second half, but Oscar (Reyes) was great in goal.

“My midfielders locked down and kept them from being able to generate a lot of good offense.”

Defensively, Dempsey singled out the play of Gerardo Brito, Luis Perez and David Solis along with Reyes for the Tigers.

“(Morris Innovative) played a good match,” Murray County coach Marco Burgueno said. “I will say the effort was there from our guys. (Morris) just kind of got the goal off an error and were able to stay back and defend it. ... They played their game and got the win.”

Dempsey said his team will enjoy the victory, but not too much.

“It is awesome, but there is still a lot of work to do,” he said. “We can’t let this one win define our season, and it is back to work (today).”

Murray County girls 2, Morris Innovative 0: Paxton Dolly had eight saves in goal for the Lady Indians (4-2, 4-2 Region 7-2A).

Morgan Devitt scored on an unassisted goal for Murray, while Vivian Gamboa scored off of an assist by Catherine Gonzalez.

Dalton boys 7, McMinn County (Tenn.) 0: Seven different players got in on the scoring action as Dalton, the top-ranked team in Class 4A, pushed its winning streak to 29 games with an easy victory during play in the Cleveland (Tenn.) Invitational.

Jesus Huitanda, Justin Macias, Gibby Perez, Kobe Perez, Javier Rodriguez, Cristian Saldana and Manny Solis all had goals for Dalton. Javier Rodriguez had two assists with Eder Mora, Saldana, Josh Satterfield, Manny Solis and Richard Solis adding assists as well.

For the game, the Cats (7-0) outshot McMinn County 21-2.

Southeast Whitfield boys 0, Signal Mountain (Tenn.) 0: Facing a team playing defense with little thought to offense, Southeast took plenty of shots, but Signal Mountain wasn’t allowing anything through.

The Raiders (5-1-1) had 29 shots on goal, while Signal Mountain had just five — three coming on free kicks outside of the box — in the first day of the Baylor Invitational in Chattanooga.

“They hunkered in and they weren’t giving anything away,” Southeast coach Kevin Kettenring said.

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