HomeSoccerOneida Men's SoccerOneida battles back from early deficit before falling to Halls

Oneida battles back from early deficit before falling to Halls

dribbles the ball during Oneida's game against Clinton at Jane Terry Hoffman Field on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | Sarah Dunlap/IH.

GATLINBURG, Tenn.  |  “Shell-shocked.”

That's how Oneida coach Derek Keeton described his team after the first 25 minutes of the game against Halls at the Smokey Mountain Cup here Friday night.

Just 25 minutes in, the Red Devils had jumped out to a 4-0 lead. 

“We were shell-shocked defensively by Halls' ability to generate offense,” Keeton said.

But the rest of the game would go much, much differently. 

Oneida would twice battle back to cut Halls' lead from four goals to two, leaving Keeton and his staff pleased with the team's effort on what might have otherwise been a dismal night in the Smokies.

“We felt at halftime that we missed some scoring opportunities that we left on the field,” Keeton said.

The Indians were down 4-1 at that point, but had begun to even the game. — who finished with a hat trick — scored a goal off an assist by to get the Indians on the board.

“We had generated eight shots on goal with half of those shots being high quality,” Keeton said.

In addition to playing without one of their leading players in , who continues to recover from a hamstring injury, the Indians were also playing one of Class AA's best teams. Nevertheless, the early deficit didn't daunt the Indians, who closed to within two after a penalty kick by Barna early in the second half.

“At that point we felt really confident about where we were in the game,” Keeton said, “but like a very good and talented team does they answered.”

Halls scored back-to-back goals to make it 6-2.

“From there the boys just kept coming,” Keeton said.

Barna scored his third goal off an assist by freshman to make it a 6-3 game, then placed a direct kick “perfectly” off the back post from 40 yards out, allowing Keeton to score off a header to make it 6-4.

Oneida had 12 shots on goal in the second half, scoring on three of those.

“We felt very good about generating that many good shots while Mason is still nursing the pulled hamstring,” Keeton said. 

Keeper had seven saves in the first half and 10 in the second.

“We got so much better as this game went on,” Keeton said. “Our coaching staff by the end of the game was extremely pleased with our growth throughout the game.”

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