Lady 'Clones blank Central

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   The Lady Cougars of Sullivan Central had the Lady Cyclone soccer team cornered up a tree for the first 54 minutes of their district tilt on Thursday night. That was before Samantha McClay began firing her rocket launcher at the Cougars to rally her team's cause.
   In a 13-minute span, McClay netted three goals to propel the Lady Cyclones to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Lady Cougars at Brown-Childress Stadium. More importantly, the win gave the Lady Cyclones a share of the regular season district title, matching University High with identical 3-1 conference slate.
   "I knew we had to start getting hungry and go for the goal," said the sophomore scoring ace. "It takes a team effort to win and we just picked up our intensity in the second half."
   Indeed, the win over the Lady Bucs on Tuesday probably played a huge part in the emotional state of the Cyclones, but at this stage in the season it's teams like the Lady Cougars who can smell opportunities by capitalizing on brief emotional letdowns.
   The Lady Cougars, even though dominated pretty much throughout by EHS, just would not go away. They only crossed midfield a total of three times in the first half, but they continuously heckled the Lady Cyclones and kept the ball out of the net for the entire first 40 minutes of action.
   "We really played strong, passed great and we spread out really well also," said Lady Cougar head coach Sharon Abee. "We just couldn't get enough shots off."
   Cyclone head coach Bill McClay lit a fire under his lackluster squad at the break and it wasn't going to take long for the Lady Cyclones to break the scoring drought.
   McClay made a beautiful drive to the goal in which she first reversed field, faked and then blasted a shot from 15 yards out to stake the Lady 'Clones to the 1-0 lead at the 54-minute mark of the contest. Six minutes elapsed off the clock before McClay took a nice assist from Katie Presnell and drilled a tough shot from the right side of the goal for her second score and a 2-0 advantage.
   Seven minutes passed before McClay closed out the offensive attack by taking another assist from Presnell and, with her left foot, pushed the ball by the diving Lady Cougar goalkeeper for the final 3-0 margin.
   Bill McClay was happy with the win, but a little disappointed with the ragged play of his team in the early going.
   "I felt like we were going to be a little flat after our UH game this past week," said McClay. "We did dominate the majority of the game, but we seemed to play with no purpose."
   Added McClay: "I knew that once we scored, we could probably score more and we did. We had a little mental letdown, yet we survived. I told the girls we couldn't take teams like this for granted, especially when we get to tournament time."
   With a team composed of only two seniors, Tracy Smith and Abby Bremer, this was an especially gratifying feat for McClay.
   "These seniors have been here through the rough times and now they can go out with a first for this program -- a share of first place. This program is six years old and it's great these girls can go out this way."
   The Lady Cyclones now have to prepare for a tough match with Tennessee High, which is always traditionally tough. With the win, the Cyclones stand at 6-5 overall, and 3-1 conference.