KINGSPORT—Whenever Dobyns-Bennett and Sullivan South hook up in soccer, it is going to be close and Friday's matchup at Indian Highlands Park was no exception.
The Rebels held Dobyns-Bennett scoreless in the first half, but with the wind at their backs the final 40 minutes, the Indians took advantage as Bryce Herlong scored on a kick from mid-field for the second time this season to put them up 1-0 early in the second half and then David Geno broke the school record for goals scored in one season and gave D-B some security in the process by booting a free kick home with nine minutes left to play for a hard-earned 2-0 victory.
"South played a great game,'' said D-B coach Shane Calvert whose ninth-ranked team improved to 14-0-3 on the season. "They have the potential to do a lot of damage in the district tournament. They're solid.
"Any time South and D-B play, you are going to see two teams that play hard and play physical and that's what happened tonight.''
"D-B is always the team we want most to beat the most,'' said South junior Josh Wood. "We played hard. We knew, with the wind at our back the first half, we needed to get a lead. It was tough when the wind was in our face.''
But with the help of goalkeeper Chad Strickland, the Indians dodged some bullets in the first half, then got another magical kick from Herlong.
Herlong, a lanky senior, hit it with a hook and the wind pushed it over the head of South goalie Aaron Pinto and into the back of the net.
"It just keeps happening,'' said Herlong, who had another go in against Science Hill from mid-field. "I am just trying to get the ball down there in hopes someone can flick it in.''
"We need to find a way to bring him back next year,'' laughed Calvert, referring to his senior who has also had three assists from that free kick from mid-field.
"We knew they had strong legs,'' said South coach Malora Quisenberry. "We just misplayed that.''
Later, Pinto made a great save on a penalty kick from close in by Geno, but Geno later scored the second goal on a free kick where Craig Mitcham made first contact, faking a kick and let Geno come up from behind to boot it past Pinto for the second goal.
The goal was No. 24 for the season, one more than the previous record held by Nick Cooper in 2002 and Jessie Macharia in 2001.
"I just do whatever I can to help the team,'' said Geno, who had 14 goals as a freshman last year and finds himself just six goals short of the career record of 44 goals set by Cooper from 1999 to 2002.
Geno will have three more regular-season games to improve on his record. The Indians host Greeneville on Tuesday, then play at Knox Bearden and Knox Powell next Friday and Saturday. The Indians will draw a first-round bye in the District I tournament and play the winner of a Monday game between Tennessee High and South in the semifinals on Tuesday, May 6.
"What's amazing is that Geno has done that and he missed five games with an injury,'' noted Calvert.
A key to the victory Friday was the play of goal-keeper Chad Strickland. He had seven saves, a couple of them spectacular ones.
"He was huge,'' said Calvert. "Chad's had a great season. He made some great saves tonight, but then so did their guy Pinto. He had a heckuva block on Geno's penalty kick.''
South is now 8-6-2 and 3-3 in District I play. The Rebels lost to Science Hill and Sullivan Central by one goal each.
The Rebels will play at University High on Tuesday.
D-B also won on Thursday, 3-1, at Elizabethton. In that game, Geno scored two goals and Craig Mitcham one. Mitch Gardner and Mitcham had assists.
"Elizabethton played us tough and I think our guys were a little tired from that game,'' said Calvert. "We were also missing two players. Zach Jenkins was in Toronto with the orchestra and Jack Dale wasn't able to be here.''
Here is the scoring from Friday's game:
Sullivan South 0 0 -- 0
Dobyns-Bennett 0 2 -- 2
D-B—Bryce Herlong, free kick from mid-field, 46th minute.
D-B—David Geno, free kick with assist from Craig Mitcham, 71st minute.
Shots on Goal: D-B 21; SS 12.
Saves: Chad Strickland, D-B, 7; Aaron Pinto, South, 3.