Lady Cyclones fall short against Tennessee High

Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com
BRISTOL--The Lady Cyclones traveled to Stone Castle to face Tennessee High on Tuesday, and a fast from the Lady Vikings made the difference in their 4-2 victory.
Elizabethton was unable to answer a 3-1 deficit after the first period, but the Cyclones hung tough by coming up shy on a couple of missed opportunities.
"I'm pretty pleased with our effort, and where they put pressure on us they exposed a few of our weaknesses, but that's something we know needs to be fixed," said Elizabethton coach Bill McClay. "We played pretty well to come out of here with two goals, and chances for a couple of more that just missed."
The Vikings struck early in the first few minutes, when the Cyclone goalie Maria Francisco went out to charge the ball.
A kick by Jena Rickard over the head of Fransisco from the right side resulted in the Vikings' first goal of the evening, with just under four minutes into the contest.
Elizabethton came out and played us hard, and we were able to get the early lead, but I still think we could have played a little bit better than what we did," said Tennessee High coach Evandro Valentine. "We got a chance to play a lot of kids, and anytime you can get a win it's good."
The Vikings tallied their second goal of the night when an attempted block near the goal ricocheted off a Cyclone defender, finding its way to the goal.
"After the second goal we played about 25 minutes before they scored again, and we played basically in the middle of the field," said McClay. "We got the ball forward and made a couple of corner kicks, which tells you have the ball forward."
It took Elizabethton nearly 10 minutes before it had its first scoring opportunity, but a kick from Sam McClay was barely blocked by the goalie and sailed out of bounds.
McClay in-bounded a pass to Cassidy Hyatt, but she was not quite able to control the pass to make the kick down low.
Tennessee High had a shot that nearly scored as Rickard tried to connect off the break, but a good defensive play denied the score.
The Vikings increased their advantage to 3-0 with 10 minutes left in the first period, when Rickard received a pass from Elizabeth Yancey out ahead of the defense.
"She usually plays midfield, and today we moved her up front and she's good at finding a way to create her shots," said Valentine
Elizabethton was able to answer with a goal coming off a penalty shot from McClay, which squeezed inside the right corner of the post.
"My teammate said where to kick it, so I aimed for the far post, because the goalie was playing a little over to the right of the goal," said Sam McClay. "I felt like we played pretty good against a 3-A team getting two scores. We never gave up."
The Cyclones had dug themselves an early hole in the first, but came on strong toward the end of the period by having better control of the field position.
The second period started off reminiscent of the first, as it took the Cyclones a little while to keep the ball out of their field of play.
"The first half we were playing not to lose, so we weren't very aggressive and we let them take it to us," said McClay. "Once we stepped up our intensity we played much better."
A quick goal in the first few minutes from Ana Luisa Valente scored, when she kicked the ball over the out stretched hand of to make it a 4-1 lead for the Vikings.
"I told them they really had to focus all the time. They came out strong in the first few minutes and then we let up until they scored again," said Valentine.
Elizabethton had several chances, but didn't come up with a much-needed goal as an inbounds pass to Hyatt being blocked inside.
"I had a couple of chances, but goofed them up. I should have caught it with my belly and walked it right on in there," said Hyatt. "I'll get it next time."
A shot from the right side by Katie Presnell just missed to the outside, and a free kick by McClay bounced off the top of the goal post, denying the Cyclones once again.
It was a scary moment for Elizabethton with under 10 minutes left in the contest when Ashley Green collided with another player going after the ball and injured her ankle.
She had to be carried off the field after a five-minute delay in the action.
The last goal of the night came with five minutes left in regulation, as a pass inside to Hyatt from Natasha Baker scored.
"Yeah, I kicked it right in there and it was a pretty good score, I thought," said Hyatt. "I thought we played well, and all I can say is 'Soccer Rocks My Socks.'"