Jose Ortiz battles for possession of the ball during the Blue Devils’ win over University High last week. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

Jose Ortiz battles for possession of the ball during the Blue Devils’ win over University High last week. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

A fast start and a strong finish lifted the Unicoi County High School boys soccer team to their second victory of the season last week.

The Blue Devils (2-4) defeated University High at Civitan Park in Johnson City on Thursday, March 30.

“We talked about the importance of finishing the game strong,” head coach Justin Ciralsky told The Erwin Record. “So far this season we have started well, and then let off the gas and it has hurt us because we lost games that we were winning. So the focus during UH was to start strong and finish strong. They accomplished this.”

The Blue Devils held a 3-0 score at halftime and traded goals with the Junior Bucs in the second half to win the game 4-1. UH’s only score came on a penalty kick.

UCHS dominated possession of the ball throughout the game – something they have done all season, according to their head coach.

“Our passing and possession have been consistent throughout the entire season,” Ciralsky said. “In every game the boys have played well. They are moving the ball around the field and making nice runs in order to keep the ball. Our three midfield players – Sam Murillo, Daniel Meza and Chris Andrade – are doing an excellent job at keeping possession. Keeping possession helps us to control the game, and it forces the other team to adapt and play our style. Keeping possession also helps us to get more shots and hopefully more goals.”

Murillo, a senior, and Meza, a junior, each scored a goal in the game. Senor Jose Ortiz scored 2. Meza turned in a standout performance for UCHS.

“Daniel had an outstanding game,” Ciralsky said. “He played consistently well and improved as the game went on. It is promising to watch him grow into a leader that the team will need throughout this year and in the years to come. As a whole most of the boys played well.”

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The Blue Devils were scheduled to host Tennessee High on Tuesday, April 4, following The Erwin Record’s press deadline.

Their next game is a conference matchup scheduled for 6 p.m. against Sullivan South in Erwin.

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For more photos from the game, visit http://www.erwinrecordpix.com/Sports/High-School-Sports/Soccer-High-School/Blue-Devil-Soccer/2017/Soccer-at-University-High-March-2017/