EHS needs consistent intensity

After an inconsistent first half of the season that saw the Elizabethton Cyclones soccer squad post a 1-4-3 overall mark, the season could go either way as 'Betsy faces the home stretch.
   Actually, things aren't as bad for the Cyclones as it had been earlier in the season, when a distinct lack of intensity cost them dearly in losses to University High and Marion, Va.
   In the words of head coach Bill McClay, the Cyclones simply haven't, "Put together 80 minutes yet."
   It is a theme which has echoed around this talented team that just can't seem to get out of second gear until their backs are against the wall.
   After the draw against Morristown East, senior goalkeeper David Poston said, "We should play the whole game like we played the last five minutes (tonight). We need to play hard the whole game."
   The Cyclones played well in their opening loss to Sullivan Central, losing just 3-2 after rallying from two-goals down, but things began to snowball downhill from there.
   Dobyns-Bennett then blanked the Cyclones three-zip in a game that saw junior 'keeper Charlie Crowe step in for Poston and do a fine job against the powerful Indians.
   The team then seemed to sleepwalk through its 4-1 loss to Marion, as Scarlett Hurricane striker Bryan Freeman scored a hat trick, and 'Betsy never got it cranked up offensively.
   After a tie with Sullivan North, EHS seemed to have reached a breakthrough as they knocked off Tennessee High in Bristol, by a 2-0 count, and looked like a team that had found itself.
   The win over the Vikings was the first ever by Elizabethton, and could have provided a much needed spark in terms of momentum, but the timing of the win proved faulty as well.
   "The thing about that game is that spring break came right after it, and we had no time to keep the momentum going," said McClay. "That hurt us because it wasn't until a whole week later that we got back to play in live action. For the most part, when we make a mistake it proves fatal. Winning is a lot like losing in that when you win, it feeds on itself, and the same applies when you aren't winning."
   Senior Luke Carrier has carried the team offensively with 10 goals and an assist, and has scored all of 'Betsy's goals in two of the last three games.
   "We haven't put our finger on why we let things get away from us at times," said Carrier after the East contest. "We have got to go full out the whole game and we haven't been doing that yet. It has to come from each individual to play hard all the time."
   It doesn't seem to be a physical thing holding 'Betsy back-- the Cyclone athlete's are talented and run well -- it's the mental lapses that are hurting right now.
   A case in point was the Boone contest in which the Cyclones dominated, but gave up two scores on plays where communication was absent.
   The second of those was most glaring as Poston attempted a pass to Alex Fries from the box, but Fries had his back turned to him and didn't hear Poston call out to him in time.
   Boone's B.J. Oakes then jumped on the pass and quickly scored the goal that gave Boone a 2-1 lead, but was only the fourth shot the 'Blazers were able to put on the EHS net all day. Two of those went in.
   For the most part 'Betsy has played well in the midfield, and in fact have been dominant there, but when on the attack they seem to look to someone else to finish the play.
   Michael Tierney and John David Jativa both have the ability to finish, but Jativa doesn't always look to shoot when he's open and Tierney has struggled lately with accuracy as his shots have been consistently going wide of late.
   A big 2-1 Friday night win against David Crockett may help to put 'Betsy back on track after the slow start, as both Tierney and Jativa scored goals which may serve to give them each a boost of confidence.
   Sandy Nave also has stepped up offensively, but has been stonewalled on at least two occasions where the opposing keeper has made a spectacular save against him. That's the way the game goes at times, but if Nave continues shooting well the goals will eventually come.
   The defense has played well with Lincoln Orellana and Fries providing solid coverage in front of Poston but they have also had several lapses that have led to an opportunity for the opposition.
   "That's part of it," said McClay. "I don't know how much of it is a fatigue factor. We expend a lot of energy on the attack, but it's always a little thing we don't do that hurts us. We have talked about that as a team, but we haven't been able to correct it yet."
   The Cyclones now face four straight home contests, including return matches against Central and North, as 'Betsy tries to finish the season with a flourish and go into the district tournament with some momentum.