By Jeff Keeling
Photos by Dakota Hamilton. See photo galleries at docophotography.com.
David Crockett’s soccer program is on the upswing this season after two consecutive single-win seasons, head coach Tony Snapp said Monday ahead of a league contest against Sullivan Central Tuesday. The team certainly proved that with a 6-0 shellacking of Central that evened the Pioneers’ conference record at 2-2.
The team was coming off a close home loss Thursday to Sullivan South in which the Pioneers erased a 2-0 halftime deficit. Goals by Andrew Meredith and Mike Kucera evened things before South scored on a direct kick from around 25 yards in the 70th minute.
“We had another opportunity or two to score,” Snapp said of the Pioneers, whose overall record now stands at 4-5-1. “The guys are playing really well.”
Snapp coached Crockett for a number of years and returned last fall, taking over the girls’ team after an absence of several years. His daughter, Brooklyn, played for him at Crockett and is now a goalkeeper for Milligan College. The boys’ team had struggled in his absence.
Kucera, a senior striker who had focused on basketball through his high school career, has been an important part of the resurgence, Snapp said.
“I talked with him and asked if after basketball was over he’d come out and play with us, give it a try. He said yes, and it’s been a great blessing so far.”
Tori Head assists Snapp and also has been a great asset to him, Snapp said. Head played for Dobyns-Bennett and East Tennessee State University, and assisted with the girls’ team last fall. “She knows the game and knows the flow. The guys listen to her and work real hard for her just like they do me.”
The team plays a fairly basic 4-4-2 set most of the time. It’s all part of a building process, Snapp said.
“We don’t have a lot of kids that play club soccer, so we have to do basic fundamentals. Nothing real fancy, it’s all pretty basic soccer. During practice we go over a lot of game scenarios, so hopefully when that opportunity arises in the game they’ll be able to take care of business.”
The team has just a few seniors, and has shown flashes of offensive potency. “I’ve got three or four kids that play really well together,” Snapp said. “We can score goals. Our biggest thing is just finishing in the final third.”
The Pioneers still have Science Hill and Volunteer on the conference schedule. They’ll also play West Greene, Cocke County, Tri-Cities Christian and Chuckey-Doak before the district tournament. A .500 season isn’t out of the question.
“That would be great success from the last year or so and be a stepping stone for the future,” Snapp said.