KNOXVILLE, Tenn. | Oneida hadn't been beaten since a late March trip to Gatlinburg for the Smoky Mountain Cup, when the Indians came up short in a pair of games against larger-classification teams in Halls and William Blount.
Throughout the month of May, the Indians' lone blemish was a 2-2 tie against Knox Central.
So coach Derek Keeton and his club were understandably excited to get a rematch against Halls Tuesday (May 2). At full strength this time — the last time the Indians were missing Mason Keeton — Oneida wanted to see how it stacked up against the Class AAA power as it prepares to go into the postseason.
Halls picked up the win, 6-3, but the final score wasn't too indicative of the way the game was played.
It was a 1-1 game at halftime. “We felt really good about where we were at that point,” Keeton said.
Oneida went up 2-1 early in the second half, before Halls answered with three straight goals to make it 4-2. Oneida scored again to cut the deficit to one, but the Red Devils scored two unanswered goals to end the game.
Luke Barna, Mason Keeton and Grady Keeton scored goals for Oneida.
“Our kids played their guts out tonight,” Keeton said. “They never quit, and for that I'm very proud of them. This game will prepare us for what's to come in the region and in the sectional.”
Once again, officiating played an indelible part in the outcome. Oneida had a goal wiped off in the first half following a three-minute consultation. In the second half, there were two fouls inside the 18 — which should've resulted in penalty kicks for Oneida — that were not called.
“The fatigue of continuing to not get calls eventually wore us down,” Keeton said.
Officiating has been a point of consternation for both local soccer coaches again this year as the regular season winds down and the postseason approaches.
For Oneida, the road to Murfreesboro will run through Jane Terry Hoffman Field — at least through the regionals, and perhaps in the substate, as well. The Indians will begin that path by hosting Rockwood on Tuesday, May 9. Kickoff is slated for 6:30pm.