Youthful Cyclones should do well

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com

   The Cyclone soccer team is ready to wipe last year's slate clean and launch into at least several years worth of stellar defense and high scoring.
   With a team made up primarily of sophomores, the young but experienced team has been hitting the field hard in preparation for a season that head coach Bill McClay anticipates to be a successful one.
   With 17 of 23 players back from last year, seven of which are returning starters, the Cyclones have the advantage of youth, with just enough experience to put them in competition with older teams, on their side.
   Sophomore Adam Green is one of three captains chosen by their peers to help lead the team to victory. Robert Cogan and Kyle Germaine are the remaining two captains.
   "I think we'll do pretty good," Green said during a practice session. "We've got a strong team."
   McClay thinks that the team's biggest strength is the fact that there isn't just one highly exceptional player. A total team effort will propel the Cyclones, who will face conference foe Sullivan North today at 5 p.m.
   "More than individual people, we probably have a team that is deeper this year than we've had in the years past," McClay said. "We can probably go 15 or 16 deep and interchange them without much loss. We've got more options than we've had in the past."
   Heading up the scoring should be team captain Cogan.
   "I'll probably depend on Robert Cogan," Coach McClay said. "He's a senior forward. We're looking for him to put the ball in the goal."
   While the team trains three players in the goalkeeper position, protecting the Elizabethton goal will fall mostly on the shoulders of the returning Ben Carey.
   McClay anticipates offensive support from several players, a change from last year's season. The team scored 16 goals on the year, 12 of which were scored by one player.
   "If I could have one guy go out and score 25 goals, that would be great, but that's not necessarily going to happen," McClay said. "I would hope for an effort similar to what we had in our scrimmage game against Chuckey-Doak before spring break. We won seven to one and had five different guys score."
   Because the team has some experience under its belt, and the majority of players will be around for another few seasons, McClay feels that this will be the beginning of a long streak of Cyclone soccer success.
   "A lot of that was that we just didn't take enough shots," the coach said about the lack of offense last year. "We were very young last year and I think our record showed it."
   This year, he hopes the aggression will be more potent. "We'll up our goal count and our shots taken, and defensively, we'll be pretty decent," he said.
   This year's roster has several seniors, three of which are starting. However, the bulk of the key players are underclassmen. Four sophomores and freshman are on the starting lineup.
   "We're young, but most of them played a lot last year," McClay said. "A lot of times with sophomores, it's their first year playing. With us, that's not the way it is -- a lot of these sophomores played a full year last year."
   In addition to the coach's enthusiasm for the season, the athletes also expect to play well. Cogan feels that he and his teammates play extremely well together, and he expects much of the help this year to come from the sophomores and freshmen.
   "We've got a lot of underclassmen on our team," said Cogan. "We've got a young team, but we have a lot of heart."