Elizabethton soccer team making a strong finish

After the second of two heartbreaking 3-2 losses to Sullivan Central, the Elizabethton Cyclones soccer squad could well have called it quits on what was becoming a disappointing season.
   To their credit, however, the Cyclones decided instead to show what they are made of, and have gone on a tear that has seen them move up from last to second place in the conference and win three straight matches in the process.
   'Betsy, now 6-5-3, got off to a slow 0-3-1 start, but have gone 6-1-2 since losing to Marion, Va. 4-1 at Brown-Childress Stadium in a lackluster performance.
   The Cyclones now have the appearance of a confident bunch that feels good about itself going into the season finale tonight against Daniel Boone, and the conference tournament next week.
   When asked if it was better communication or execution that was at the heart of the change in the Cyclones of late, Luke Carrier said: "All of those things, plus confidence and playing harder for the full duration of the match. We got off to a rocky start and it was important to try and get a couple wins under our belts to get some confidence going."
   Early on the Cyclones struggled to score, but with the return of junior Gavin McKinney from an ankle injury, and two moves on the EHS backline, the Cyclones are scoring goals in bunches.
   Coach Bill McClay decided to take a chance and give freshman Jeff Allman a shot at increased playing time, and also moved junior Andy Ross to the backline along with Alex Fries and Lincoln Orellana.
   The result has been much better communication, with fewer breakdowns, and that has allowed the Cyclones front line to concentrate on putting the ball in the net.
   "We made that change midway through the season," said McClay. "I needed to stop experimenting, and said, 'This is the horse we're going to ride.' They work well together, communicate well, and the freshman Allman has stepped up."
   In the three-game winning streak EHS has outscored its opponents 12-2, and in its last six matches 'Betsy owns a 19-7 advantage in goals scored.
   Carrier scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season in 'Betsy's 5-1 undressing of the University High Junior Bucs to stay ahead of John David Jativa, who has netted 10 goals for the season.
   "If we can carry this into the playoffs I think we might go somewhere with it," Jativa said of his squad's newfound scoring wealth. "We wish we could have started out this way, but it's better to be playing well at the end of the season."
   Those two, along with McKinney, Michael Tierney (five goals, seven assists) and Sandy Nave, who has become a better finisher of late, give EHS the scoring punch to move on when they inevitably meet Central once again.
   Despite the two close shave losses to Central, Carrier doesn't feel the Cyclones will be intimidated by another match against the Cougars.
   "That's a good game any day," he said, "but we feel pretty confident against Central. It could go either way, we just have to show up and play."
   Tonight's contest with Boone will be 'senior night' and will commence at 7 p.m. at Brown-Childress Stadium.