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BRISTOL -- A tie would have been enough to assure Dobyns-Bennett the District I-AAA soccer title on Tuesday, but David Geno made sure with a rocket that found the left-corner of the net with four minutes to play and lifted the Indians to an unlikely title with a 1-0 victory.
The win made D-B 5-0-0 in District I-AAA play with a game remaining Thursday night at Sullivan Central. Tennessee High came in 3-0-2 and could have won the title had it beaten D-B and had the Indians lost to Sullivan Central. As it is, the Vikings finish 3-1-2 in league play and are 9-3-2 overall. The Indians improve to 12-3-2 and have not lost to any Northeast Tennessee team other than Morristown West.
"We graduated 13 seniors,'' noted coach Shane Calvert. "And returned only two starters (David Geno and Danny Clark). So this is very gratifying.''
"We were dominating the game, but we just couldn't get the ball to go into the back of the net,'' said Geno. "Finally, we got one.''
Geno, a junior, said he saw the open corner and ripped the ball past a diving John Turnbull, who had made a number of spectacular saves earlier to deny the Indians.
"I saw the far post was open and just went for it,'' said Geno, who now has 27 goals on the season. He took a pass from Ben Lewis and kicked the ball home.
Though they are sure of the title, they can't take Central for granted.
"We've got to keep fighting because Central is going to be good,'' said Geno. "We have to bring our best.''
Central improved to 3-2 in Big 9 play with a 2-1 win over Science Hill on Tuesday while Sullivan South (4-1-1) wrapped up the No. 2 seed with a 5-1 victory over David Crockett.
"I told our guys: 'Let's eliminate any doubt','' said Calvert. "Let's go out there and play. I thought Tennessee High played a great game. It was one of those I wish I could have sat in the stands and watched, because both teams gave it all they had. Tennessee High had chances to bury one just like we did. I am really proud of my guys and I am also proud of Tennessee High.''
So was Tennessee High coach Evandro Valente.
"This gets us ready for the tournament,'' said Valente. "We played very well. We made a few mistakes, but Geno is a very good player and it is hard to contain him.''
Valente praised Turnbull, who has had an outstanding season. Turnbull had six saves in the game.
"He hasn't played soccer since about the sixth grade, but wanted to come out and has played very well for us,'' said Valente.
Valente said D-B would have still been No. 1 even had his team won because the Vikings lost two points each for tying Crockett and South, while D-B would have only lost three points had it lost to Tennessee High.
"The big thing for us is the tournament next week,'' said Valente.
Calvert told the Viking players he hoped to see them again next week in the tournament. Tennessee High will likely have to beat South to get there. South will be the No. 2 seed and Tennessee High will be No. 3, if Central loses. A win would give Central four league wins and 12 points to Tennessee High's 11.
"We knew coming in there were a very good defensive team,'' said Calvert. "And you can see why. They move well and their goalkeeper is very good.''
Brett Mallinak recorded the victory in the Dobyns-Bennett goal. Tennessee High took nine shots to 10 for D-B.