Flying to the ball on all areas of the soccer field, McCallie was utterly dominant in a 3-0 shutout win Friday night at Baylor.
The Blue Tornado seemed to receive a jolt from a pep talk given by Ben Stafford before the rivalry match in front of a lively crowd.
"Ben came in and told the guys to go out and really focus on winning their one-versus-one battles," McCallie coach Chris Cushenbery said of the McCallie alumnus who was a Wake Forest standout and a 2001 MLS draft pick. "We did that everywhere on the field. Every guy on the field did their job and believed in one another."
Helping key strong runs all game for McCallie was a promising young forward, sophomore Gui Vivaldini.
With graceful strides he scored just four minutes into the action. Then in the 32nd minute on a beautiful one-two connection with Johnny Richardson, the pair broke down the defense and Vivaldini finished in close for his 14th goal of the season and a three-goal advantage.
He had assisted on Stone Roebuck's flicked shot over the oncoming goalkeeper in the 10th minute.
"Our team was focused tonight," Vivaldini said. "Everyone made the runs they needed to. It felt like things came together with ease early. This was a big win for us, but not our biggest this year."
While smothering the 2018 Division II-AA state champions on their home field was impressive, McCallie (8-4-2) had registered a 6-0 road win back on March 31 over Station Camp, which was ranked fifth in the country at the time.
The Blue Tornado believe they reached a turning point that night, which was one of the three times this season they have played a team ranked in the top 10 in the country. They fell 2-1 at Dalton earlier in the season.
"Our guys held each other accountable after a tough loss to Westminster," Cushenbery said. "They regrouped after the game and figured out what they did wrong and then beat a top-five team the next night by six goals. They held each other accountable."
In Friday's win over Baylor (9-5-1), versatile Noah Treman showed his prowess on throw-ins and defense and had a second-half goal called back. On that play he struck a 50-yard free kick that bounced in traffic and into the back left of the net.
"We had last year in mind coming into this game," Treman said. "They beat us in the state semifinals in overtime, and we wanted revenge. Being physical was a big part of how we could get the job done, and we did that really well."
The Red Raiders struggled to connect passes deep downfield as they were held to hardly any high-percentage looks. Nathan Webb was a Baylor standout.
"I was proud of our kids," Cushenbery said. "They played very disciplined and worked together as a team. We have a strong group and are getting some key guys back from injury. We want to keep rolling and playing with the same energy we did tonight."