Elizabethton turns tide against University High

By Marvin Birchfield

STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   JOHNSON CITY -- After dropping two close games to University High in the regular season, the Elizabethton soccer team was able to turn the tide with a 4-0 victory in the District 1-A/AA Tournament at Civitan Park on Tuesday.
   "In the other games they were close as far as shot-wise, and play-wise they have been fairly equal," said Elizabethton coach Bill McClay.
   The Cyclones were in control from the start, with a couple of quick goals coming from Gavin McKinney in the first minutes of the opening period.
   "The difference in playing them here is we scored early, and then we told them that they can't let up," said McClay.
   The first score came off a pass from Robert Cogan over the Jr. Bucs defense, with McKinney connecting on a difficult shot.
   "Robert passed it to me over the last defender, then I came in and shot it in right in the upper 90, and I don't know exactly how it got there, but it got there," said McKinney.
   The next goal scored after freshman Josh Fair attempted a kick from the far side toward the goal, and McKinney was in position for the putback.
   "Josh kicked it from the corner, and it bounced off the goalie, so it was just a follow up, and I give all the credit to him," said McKinney.
   The scoring opportunities for University High were few and far between, as the Cyclone defenders were pressing and keeping the ball from crossing the mid-point of the field most of the evening.
   A missed attempt from Cody Ledford was too high in sailing over the goal, and a shot off the head of Matt Conley almost gave the Bucs their first score.
   The Cyclones started out the second period like they did in the first by acquiring two quick goals.
   "We were playing excellent," McKinney said. "We got every 50/50 ball and were able to keep our composure and just play soccer."
   Adam Green was handed a gift from close range, after the Cyclones had a couple of shots that barely missed.
   "I hope we've got on a roll here scoring wise, because this time of the year there are no ties in a ball game, so you've got to score to win," said McClay.
   The final goal was produced when a slip on the wet field by the University High goalie allowed Justin Linebaugh to make the retrieve and uncontested score.
   "We played better on the wet ground," McKinney said. "We seemed to be prepared for the big puddles in the ground, so when it stopped we were there, and when it skipped we were following it."
   The Bucs had a few chances slip by as Imran Amed and Matt Tillman were both close on their shot attempts.
   "We were too shallow on the offensive end," said University High coach Burl Williams. "We weren't pushing hard enough up front, and basically Elizabethton outhustled us,"
   Elizabethton's defense remained stout throughout the contest, as a two on one break for the Bucs was rendered by a great defensive stop from Drew LaPorte.
   The Cyclones came within inches of adding to their lead in the closing minutes, with two shots from Tyler Ross and Sam Fransisco bouncing off the goal.
   "We made most of our shots today, but we've had games this year where the goalie has turned them shots away," said McClay.
   Elizabethton will host Sullivan North at home on Thursday at 7 p.m. to settle the winner of the District 1-A/AA Tournament.