’Stangs ‘full-throttle’ in shutout victory

By PATRICK MacCOON patrick.maccoon@clevelandbanner.com
Posted 4/21/17

Strong defense and a slew of capable scorers have been key ingredients for Walker Valley’s rise in boys’ soccer the past two seasons.

Those traits for Tom Bayliss’ well-balanced group …

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’Stangs ‘full-throttle’ in shutout victory

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Strong defense and a slew of capable scorers have been key ingredients for Walker Valley’s rise in boys’ soccer the past two seasons.

Those traits for Tom Bayliss’ well-balanced group continued to shine true, as the Mustangs impressed with a 6-nil victory over Sweetwater at home Thursday night.

“It has been great to come in and see how far the program has come over the past few years,” junior defender Alex Creswell said of Walker Valley, which is 17-4-2 over the past two seasons and allowed just 17 goals. “We have to keep our work up and give it everything we have the rest of the way.”

Yet to allow more than a single goal in a contest this season, senior goalkeeper Skylar Swafford recorded his fifth shutout of the season to improve Walker Valley to 6-1-2 overall on the season.

The four-sport athlete flashed his awareness in the second half as he raced from the far right side of the net to deflect a good look on a header from his opponent with one-hand. Swafford deflected a trio of shots and also had a pair of saves.

“It’s all quick thoughts for me when I am back there,” said Swafford, who is allowing a mere 0.4 goals per game and has only been scored upon four times in nine games. “Our defense does not have any dropoffs from last season, when our team put forth the best defensive season in school history. I have a lot of faith in those guys in front of me.”

A dominant offensive attack was led by senior Sam Gibson as the strong-footed forward put a great deal of power behind his seventh and eighth goals of the season.

Gibson scored the first goal of the game 11 minutes, but it was his powerful boom in the second half that even had Sweetwater defenders in awe.

Noticing a window of opportunity from just beyond the top right of the 18-yard box, the skilled marksman scorched a shot that curved into the top left corner, for a 5-0 lead.

The powerful kicks and accuracy from Gibson, who once kicked a 60-yard field goal in warmups before a Mustang football game, have become almost expected now.

“It’s Gibson,” Bayliss said. “It’s what we expect out of him. The keeper had no chance and even the keeper is clapping for him afterwards. For a shot like that you just have to tip your hat to that kid.”

Senior David Camacho kneed in a pass from Gibson in the first half while sophomore Chase Foster also lifted a shot over the keeper from 5 yards in for a score also set up by Gibson in the first half.

Walker Valley notched three goals in each half, as freshman Dawson Morrow and sophomore Kevin Lopes also found paydirt with an 8-yard penalty kick and perfectly placed chip from 20 yards out, respectively.

“Kevin had a really nice shot that the keeper could only look up at, really,” Bayliss said. “Chase had a nice goal in the first half and Dawson has been getting some good minutes for us too. We have several freshman playing some really good minutes for us.”

The Mustangs will get back to District 5-AAA action tonight, with a home match against Bradley Central. WVHS is 2-1-1 in league play this season.

Its seniors hope one of the strongest finishes in program history could be in store.

“We are trying to win out the rest of our district games,” Swafford said. “We are trying to win the first district championship in Walker Valley boys soccer history. We are trying to leave our mark so those behind us can build off what we have done our past four years.”

CLEVELAND 2

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 1

Jordan Lopez scored a pair of goals to add to his district lead while Tommy Marino assisted one of his scores in a hard-fought victory for the Blue Raiders.

Cleveland is now 13-0-1 on the season and continues to be ranked among the state’s best in Class AAA.

SCORES

MUSTANGS 6, WILDCATS 0

GOALS: Sam Gibson 2 (11, 53); David Camacho (17); Chase Foster (26); Dawson Morrow (49); Kevin Lopes (74)

Records: Sweetwater 2-5-1; Walker Valley 6-1-2.

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