Panthers too much for 'Betsy

from staff reports

   LENOIR CITY -- Soccer to Lenoir City is like the Yankees to New York. They have a championship tradition.
   Against the defending state semi-finalist and a former state champion on the soccer field, the Elizabethton Cyclones weren't in the most comfortable position for their first sectional performance Saturday night.
   The Cyclones only had two shots on goal, but couldn't maintain their good defense throughout the match, falling to the Lenoir City Panthers 3-0.
   Elizabethton (9-9-2) had a tough task against the state's fourth-ranked unit that has only lost one district game since 1996.
   The Panthers (14-6-4) were without their starting goalkeeper and had a hard time getting it in throughout the first half, missing several shots.
   Mitch Thomas connected with Jose Gonzalez for Lenoir City's first goal at the 10-minute mark.
   They got their second goal near the end of the first half when James Lacy drove a Ben Cumberland pass for a point.
   The Panthers' final score came late in the match when Thomas booted one in on a solo effort at the 2:25 mark.
   The former state championship squad has been playing hard for its longtime coach Marvin Martin, who is retiring at the end of this season.
   Martin guided Lenoir City to the final four in four of the last six seasons, with tournament appearances the last three years, including a state semifinal appearance during last year's campaign.
   Elizabethton took two shots on goal compared to the Panthers' 13.
   Lenoir City begins play in the Spring Fling against the winner of Chattanooga Christian and Columbia Academy at 10:30 a.m. CST.