Lady Cyclones armed with lofty goals

By Ivan Sanders
It isn't a secret that losing the third time to University High in the Region I-A girls soccer championship last season left a bitter taste in the mouth's of the Elizabethton Lady Cyclone soccer team. On the other hand, the memories of a game where a teammate was left with a career-ending broken leg has stoked the determination of a solid unit that lost only two seniors to graduation.
"This team has shown steady improvement over the last two years and this bunch of juniors has not had a losing season," said Lady Cyclone head coach Bill McClay on Monday afternoon. "We made the regional finals last year and lost 3-2 in overtime to UH, so our goal as a team is to get back to the same level and win it, putting us one game away from state."
McClay will be looking heavily to senior halfback Ashley Green and senior center-fullback Farrah Fritz to provide the leadership lost to graduation in Tracy Smith and Abby Bremer. The two Lady Cyclones have the experience needed to get the job done.
"I try to practice with a lot of intensity so that the younger players realize they have to work hard not only in games, but in practice to," stated Green. "When I walk off the field I want to know that I did everything I could do to help the team and that the outcome of the game didn't fall back on something I should have done but didn't."
Fritz is a player that McClay has called on for a much larger task and has asked her to dig down deep inside to pull together the mental and physical strength needed to fill one of the key openings created by graduation. According to McClay, Fritz has done exactly what he wanted her to do.
"Everybody seems to be improving daily and really trying to help each other out," said Fritz. "I want to do my best to help this team win and not make a critical mistake that allows the other team to score. I really want to be a good example to the younger players."
Defensively, the Lady Cyclones will provide headaches for its opponents with a solid attack. The one thing McClay likes about this year's team is the fact that many of the incoming freshmen are very athletic and that is something McClay hasn't had in his stint as the Lady Cyclones coach.
Said McClay: "Competitive sports are something that these girls all know about. Even though the amount of soccer experience they have is limited to playing in youth soccer leagues, they will learn some eye-opening lessons when they step on the field with a girl getting ready to go to college. The biggest thing they will have to learn is playing in such a large age variance."
Offensively, McClay feels they Lady Cyclones will be able to put the ball on goal. The Lady Cyclones have been able to score several goals in the last couple of years, thanks in large part to McClay's daughter, rising junior Samantha, who has scored 55 goals in her two seasons in the Cyclone orange and black with 31 of those coming last season.
"We have got to work hard and not let up this season," said Samantha McClay. "The goals scored against us last season came after we let down for a couple of minutes. I am going to try and score as much as I can to help us get back to the regional finals and hopefully farther."
Coach McClay will get a quick feeling for where his team is before school begins as the Lady Cyclones travel to Colonial Heights on Monday, Aug. 18 to take on the Lady Rebels of Sullivan South in the season opener which starts at 5:30 p.m. The Cyclone mentor will then have eight days to prepare his team for its home opener on Aug. 26 against arch nemesis and conference foe UH.
Game time for the home opener will be 7 p.m. at Brown-Childress Stadium.