In what was scheduled to be the first of two meetings between the two schools this week, Oneida defeated Scott High 4-2 at Jane Terry Hoffman Field on Monday, on the strength of two unanswered goals in the second half.
In a game that was delayed four days due to last week’s severe weather, Oneida jumped out to a 2-0 lead early, before Scott High battled back to tie things early in the second half. But the Indians would score the game’s final two goals to earn the win. The teams are scheduled to rematch Saturday in the final game of the Highlander Cup at John John Yancey Memorial Park in Huntsville.
The game had hardly gotten started when Oneida senior Danner Keeton scored on a header off a corner kick to give his team an early 1-0 lead.
Less than 15 minutes later, Keeton scored again, and Oneida was up 2-0.
Scott High caught a break when Oneida was called for a handball in the box, and the Highlanders took advantage when Josiah Fladie connected on the penalty kick to make the score 2-1. That’s the way the score stood at halftime, after 40 minutes of action that left Henry feeling like his team had played good enough to lead the game.
“Here’s what I’m gonna say about these guys: I’ve had many a team, that when they get scored on or they’re down 2-0, it’s just like they’re done. These boys never flinched,” Scott High coach Eric Henry said. “It was because they knew they were here to play soccer, plain and simple.”
Oneida coach Derek Keeton said the defensive mistake was key in swinging momentum in the first half.
“I thought it was a good game to watch,” he said. “It was a competitive game. We jumped out 2-0. We thought we were going to lay the hammer down. But we made another defensive error with the handball.
“But I thought Scott High basically played us to a draw all the way up to the 20-minute mark, and I thought their young guys played well,” Keeton added.
The Highlanders tied the game early in the second half, when Kristian Obrusanszki zipped one by the keeper and into the back of the net. With 27 minutes to play, the game was knotted at two.
But from there, the match belonged to Oneida. Gabe Hacker scored on a follow-up after a ball got through the hands of Scott High’s normally sure-handed freshman keeper, which swung momentum back to the Indians. Six minutes later, one of Oneida’s freshmen, Mason Keeton, picked up another goal to make the score 4-2 with 19 minutes remaining.
“Our guys who have been scoring made plays,” Keeton said. “Danner had two goals, Gabe had one and Mason had one. Those are the guys who have been putting the ball in the net for us.”
In spite of the win, the Indians’ coach said there is plenty for his team to improve upon.
“Our guys didn’t possess the ball very well tonight. That was our biggest issue. To be honest with you, we didn’t play very well defensively. We’re still trying to figure it out,” Keeton said.
“We’ve got some things we’ve got to fix,” he added, saying that his team is trying to find a way to go toe-to-toe with teams like Alcoa or Austin-East, teams they could potentially face in a substate appearance down the road.
Henry, too, said his team didn’t play its best soccer in Monday’s match.
“We still have some young guys who made mistakes, and overall I was really disappointed that we didn’t finish,” Henry said. “We had a lot more quality shots than they did in the first half, especially. We were either a little bit wide or right at the keeper. But as far as camaraderie and playing hard, playing well together, my boys never said a cross word to each other tonight. I told them, I said, ‘Guys, that’s what’s going to help you in these good district games, playing well together as opposed to in-fighting.”
Henry said his team is still finding itself as it prepares for its toughest stretch of soccer this season, beginning with a district game against Anderson County on Thursday.
“Toby Garrett stepped up. Gaven Terry never stops playing hard for me. Kristian (Obrusanszki) and (Josiah) Fladie are starting to listen and do what I want them to. Hugo (Henry) is a lot more effective on the wing than he was upfront. John Zachary plays great across the back,” Henry said.
“We’re finding a mix right now. I’m still finding some role players and support players who can come on and help. They may have been starters early on but now they’re in support roles. But they got over getting their feelings hurt and now they’re in there helping,” he added. “All in all I’m not disappointed tonight.”