Lady Cyclones Finish One Step from State Trip
By Rick Sheek
With its best player hobbled with an ankle injury, the Elizabethton girls’ soccer team apparently didn’t stand a fighting chance.
Photo by Danny Davis - Elizabethton’s Kianna Watson (32) dribbles past a Lady Highlanders player at Dave Rider Field.
Not managing a single shot on goal, the Lady Cyclones were blanked 2-0 in Saturday’s Class A-AA Sectional at Brown-Childress Stadium.
“The first 10-15 minutes we had most of the territory, and they had a goal,” Elizabethton coach Bill McClay said. “They got behind us twice, and they got that one in. Even when we had the ball forward, we didn’t get it in front of the goal. I don’t know if we had a legitimate shot until the very end there.”
The Cyclones (11-5-4) indeed got nowhere the goal until inside the final two minutes of the affair. They misfired high in front of the box, and couldn’t convert a corner kick opportunity in that late span.
“Whether we fired our emotional bullets at the end of the Greeneville game, we seemed a little flat today,” McClay said. “Still, it was a tight game until that goal, the throw-in and then the shot. There was still a chance for us to break that.”
Leading scorer and field leader Christina Hardin, injured in the region championship victory a few nights earlier, started – but was soon on the sideline being attended to. She returned, but was clearly not her aggressive self. In the second half she wore a brace on her right ankle.
“Christina being hurt, wasn’t herself, the way we normally play when we find her the ball – she wasn’t able to do that today,” McClay said. “Given that, I think we played OK. We got to a sectional game. The thing was to get back, try to win the regional, and we accomplished that.”
The Highlanders (20-2-1) advance to next week’s state tournament in Chattanooga.
Photo by Danny Davis - Drawing close attention from Ariana Hansen, ’Betsy’s Hannah Adams puts a shoe on the ball.
“They’re a good team,” McClay said. “They’re probably a little more physical than we were, and the refs let the game go. It was pretty fair.
“I didn’t think there was much wrong with anything. It was a good game.”
Pittman had 10 shots on goal, five in each half. The Highlanders assumed a 1-0 advantage at the six-minute mark on a Makenzie Thomas goal.
“We just didn’t do enough in the attack, and when we did get the ball we seemed to be a little tentative about supporting the ball,” McClay said. “The ball would go forward, and then I would have to look 40 yards to find the back of my team – instead of us keeping it the most 40 yards between that person in the back and my striker. My defenders were 25 yards in the defensive half, and the ball was up here almost on the 18 – which is too much space.
“So even if we had an attack, we couldn’t maintain. We couldn’t keep the ball long enough.”
At the 67-minute mark, Alicia Sumeriski scored to complete the onslaught.
“It was a good year,” McClay said. “Pretty good season. We defended pretty well all year.
Photo by Danny Davis - Elizabethton’s Jessica Pearce (20) and G-P’s Claire Vallentine go hard for the ball.
“I think we’ve got a lot to look forward to next year. Hats off to Gatlinburg. I hope they have a good run down there.”
Elizabethton goalkeeper Abby Stephenson recorded seven blocks.
“This would have been a great step forward,” McClay said. “We didn’t get it this year. We bring back pretty much the same team next year, so we’ll give it another run.”