Central earns sweep of EHS

By Allen LaMountain

   Looking like an extra from the set of The Patriot, and wearing a bloody headband in the aftermath, Sullivan Central's Colin Campbell was the hero of the night for the Cougars as his left-footed shot gave Central a 3-2 win over the Elizabethton Cyclones on Thursday night at Brown-Childress Stadium.
   Campbell opened a deep cut just above the scalp line after butting heads with Cyclone striker Gavin McKinney in the Cougars' goal box, as both players fought for possession of the ball. It was a clean play both ways, but clearly illustrated how intense this rivalry has become for both squads.
   The win keeps Central unbeaten at 8-0-1 (4-0, conference) and practically locks up the top spot for the Cougars as they earned a series sweep over 'Betsy in two hard-played matches that were mirror images of each other.
   As in the early contest, Central jumped out to an early two-goal lead only to see the Cyclones (3-5-3, 0-3-1 conference) storm back to get the game even. But as in the first contest, a late score by the Cougars proved decisive.
   Campbell tallied what would prove to be the winning goal at the 64-minute mark after a throw-in by Bucky Buchanan. Buchanan's throw was headed away in the EHS goal crease by Cyclone Michael Tierney, but somehow Campbell got a foot on the ball in the crowd and sneaked a shot past EHS keeper David Poston.
   "I was hanging outside the box, when one of their guys headed the ball away," said Campbell. "It came right to me and I shifted from right to left foot and took the shot when I saw the corner was open. This was a big game and we knew we would have to give it all we had, and that's what we did."
   At the five-minute mark of the first half Central struck first as Brett Smith tallied off a feed from Joe Misciagna. Smith's blast was low and to Poston's left. Poston managed to get a glove on the rocket, but the momentum carried it into the nets.
   "I thought Misciagna played real well in the mid-field," said Cougars head coach Joe McPherson. "He helped out well on one of our goals and really centered our defense. He shadowed their scorers all night. (EHS) scored both their goals when I moved him up front."
   Will Avery tallied for Central at the 30-minute mark with an assist from Smith, and Avery's goal showed how quickly the Cougars can strike. From the 25-yard line at the opposite end of the field Misciagna threw in to Dustin Cross, who headed the ball to Smith.
   Smith's pass hit Avery in stride as he raced with Cyclone Andy Ross to the ball, and just inside the box Avery let fly and struck paydirt, allowing Central to take a two-goal lead into the break.
   Central outshot 'Betsy 6-3 in the first half, but the second half would be just the opposite as McKinney tallied two goals in the first 13 minutes of the second half to knot the game at 2-2.
   McKinney, who saw his first action of the season after returning from an ankle injury, scored on a header off a corner kick by Tierney and later tallied with an assist by John David Jativa.
   "No one was blocking me out, and I snapped my fingers to Tierney to let him know I was open," said McKinney. "I headed the ball to the top corner and got it over the keeper. The second goal was a shot by John David. He shot it and the keeper got a hand on it. I knew there was a guy right behind me, so I tapped it over his foot and shot it in."
   Both teams saw golden chances miss by the narrowest of margins, with the first coming shortly after McKinney's game-tying goal as Central's Luke Walker put a point-blank shot over the top post.
   Late in the match, EHS' Jonathan Cook had a wide open look at a rebound that came his way in the Cougar box. Like Walker, Cook put a little too much on the shot and it sailed high and over the bar.
   Campbell's goal was one of those things you can never predict, as the throw-in came from about the 30-yard line and was headed out of the box by Tierney but the ball found its way onto Campbell's foot, and his shot from in a scrum in front of the net took everyone by surprise.
   "Poston's reaction to the shot told me he never saw the ball," said Cyclone head coach Bill McClay. "What can you say about a goal like that? The keeper was screened and we didn't clear it out of the box. The effort was there, and when you play a game like that and you can say you played your best, then it just wasn't your night."