'Betsy, UH play to scoreless standstill

By Marvin Birchfield

   Seeking a much-needed win to stay in the hunt of the conference race, Elizabethton dominated every aspect of the game but the one which counted -- the scoreboard.
   At the end of regulation the Cyclone soccer team had battle to a 0-0 tie with conference rival University High, after beating them earlier in the season 3-0.
   "We tried to put some speed into it -- they seemed to be a little vulnerable when we did that, but that's one thing I don't think we utilized as we could have effectively," said Elizabethton coach Bill McClay.
   Elizabethton outshot the Jr. Bucs 19-4 with a 9-2 advantage at shot on-goals.
   The Cyclones controlled the field position through most of the first half, and they continued with the upper hand about the entire second half.
   A windy evening shortened the field play, which probably affected the overall play on offense.
   "The wind didn't help any -- it restricted the play to one side of the field, and you couldn't really cross it back to the other side," said McClay. "I'd rather have it cross ways though than to give somebody a big advantage with having it on one side or the other."
   Elizabethton had several attempts in the first half, after an in-bounds pass from Josh Fair set up a shot by Robert Cogan, missing just wide left.
   The Cyclones did a good job of shutting down the Bucs break away, as one of the few shot opportunities from Burl Williams was deflected by goalie Ben Carey in the final minutes.
   After taking control of the first half, the Cyclones turned up the pressure in the second half.
   A drive from Williams was stopped by Kyle Germaine, as the Bucs had only one shot attempt in the second half.
   The Cyclones got the ball inside several times, but the missed opportunities along with the great defensive play from Buc goalie Dillian Sexton became the deciding factor in the end.
   "I think we played good. We had the chances up front and overall we played really good," said Elizabethton's Derek Slagle. "He made some really great saves, especially at near post." "We looked like we had some goals right there and he came out of nowhere and took them from us."
   A pass from Drew LaPorte to Chris Wilson down low was stopped by a diving Sexton.
   Germaine took a shot from long-range halfway through the second half that nearly slipped past the Buc defense.
   A couple of defense plays around the goal during the last 10 minutes became huge for University High's effort of fending off the loss.
   Fair had a close shot inside, but another great play from Sexton denied the score.
   "We had to play great defense, because they dominated the second half," said University High coach Burl Williams. "Our goalie played the best game of his life, and we were fortunate to come out of here with a tie today."
   It was all but good when Dylan Smith drilled the ball from the right side of the goal, but again the defense was able to get a hand to deflect it off the post, which never crossed inside the plain.
   "This whole year nobody's been able to hold onto the kicks I've made," said Smith. "I think everybody thought it was going in, and we just kind of set back, but we'll work on that in practice.
   "The second half we stayed on their side of the field. It was a team effort and we played good and so did they. It was a tie game and you can't beat that."
   An attempt by Matt Conley from the right-side corner was just high in the final two minutes, as the Cyclones continued to get back on defense to stop the break.
   "We couldn't get our transition through our midfield and up to the offense -- we were back on our heels 90 percent of the second half," said Williams. "They were just a little snake-bit and we were lucky the second half."
   The tie eliminates Elizabethton hopes of catching Sullivan Central in the regular season conference standings, as the Cyclones fall a game and a half behind the Cougars.
   "We are 3-1-1 and regardless if we beat Central, then they'll still be 5-1 and we'll be just 4-1-1," said McClay. "We'll probably end up playing UH at our place in the district tournament the way that I see it now."