SMYRNA -- An offensively explosive first half built an insurmountable lead as La Vergne's soccer team took down Smyrna 4-0 Thursday afternoon at Smyrna High School.
La Vergne scored three of its four goals before halftime, and in the second half, a defensive focus left the typically aggressive Smyrna offensive attack scoreless throughout the contest.
“In the first half we really took advantage of the opportunities we did have, and we finished them,” La Vergne coach Allen McMillan said. “Smyrna’s got a good team, and we knew that the opportunities would be few and far between, so we had to take advantage, and we did.”
The players who took advantage of the gaps in Smyrna’s defense were sophomore Christian Menjivar (two goals), sophomore Anthony Hernandez (one goal) and junior Samuel Hernandez (one goal).
And though three players were the goal scorers, McMillan assured the win came down to a team effort.
“It was a good team effort today,” he said. “The challenge going forward is bringing this effort every night.”
Coming into the contest, La Vergne’s focus was to limit the on-field impact of senior forward Kevin Avalos, and overall it was successful. In the second half, La Vergne limited his possessions, suffocating him off the ball and forcing him into difficult passes where he struggled to connect with teammates.
“He’s a great player. We knew we had to be aware of where he was at all times,” McMillan said. “Our plan coming in was to not let one guy beat us, and we just had to be aware of where he was.”
In Smyrna’s case, the loss was a product of La Vergne simply wanting it more on the field.
“We still had chances in the first and we didn’t connect very well,” Smyrna coach Brian Grogan said. “There were just times where they were just a lot sharper, and they wanted it more and that was evident. When you combine all of that together that makes the mountain hard to climb.”
Out of halftime things went better for Smyrna offensively, even with Avalos struggling to connect with teammates.
Smyrna created 12 total chances and had 11 shots on goal in the second half, but none of them found the back of the net. Two shots in the final 10 minutes of the game struck the post. And three shots forced La Vergne’s senior goalkeeper Mauricio Gallegos into diving saves.
In the end, it wasn’t enough as Smyrna remained scoreless throughout the contest.
Going forward, McMillan and his team want the same offensive and defensive effort throughout the rest of the season. The only question remaining is if it will be found along with the needed consistency.
“Consistency is what we want, and it will be the hardest thing to overcome,” McMillan said. “We’ve got a young team. We got some guys that are inexperienced. The effort has been inconsistent at times, but today the effort was good.”