Latest chapter in 'Betsy-UH series ends in 2-2 deadlock

Photo by Dave Boyd
ElizabethtonÕs Farrah Fritz takes aim on the ball.

By Seth Bartee
star correspondent
JOHNSON CITY -- Hurricane Isabel rolled into the North Carolina and Virginia coastlines Thursday morning causing a lot of damage, but the storm didn't put up a fight like that between the Elizabethton High School Lady Cyclones and University High School girls' soccer teams.
The Elizabethton High School Lady Cyclones tied University High's girls 2-2 in a hard fought match at Winged Deer Park Thursday. Coming into the game Coach Bill McClay said that matches between these two teams have been close and turned into a rivalry over night.
The first half saw UH score first as transfer Yvette Basalone scored on a close shot to the goal. The Lady Cyclones came right back and scored when Sam McClay hit a goal on a penalty kick.
When McClay scored the first goal for EHS it had to be a bad omen for UH because they put two to three defenders on her and made it very difficult for her to move freely to the goal.
"It's tough when you have a lot of people defending you" said McClay.
EHS kept the game in the middle of the field the first half and rarely allowed UHS to get close to scoring territory. Good defensive play came from freshman Rachel Oliver as she defended the EHS goal toughly.
"We got good play from some unexpected sources tonight and one of those sources who stepped it up was Rachel Oliver," said McClay.
The first half was highlighted by the play of EHS freshman goal keeper Sophia Murillo. Murillo stopped an early shot when Yvette Basalone tried from long distance. Then Murillo nearly missed a slow roller but managed to grab it before it could roll in.
"Sophia has only been playing goalie since December; this is only her eighth game on grass; she's doing great," McClay said of Murillo's performance.
Halftime was the eye of the storm because the second half saw the rough side of the eye wall pass over Winged Deer Park.
University High fan, Mary Ann Clark said that these two teams play hard even to the point of injury. Clark's daughter suffered a concussion in a game with EHS last year in an incident that left a Lady Cyclone player with a broken leg.
The second half started out with the Lady Cyclones where they left off. Immediately they had the ball in UH territory but Sam McClay failed to get in the net on a miss from long distance early in the second half.
University High played hard in the second half when senior Anna "Annie Oakley" Floyd stormed the field but just missed her chance to score when she hit from an odd angle to break the tie.
Floyd said the EHS girls have improved a lot since they faced off with UHS last time in August and UHS won 3-0 on a hot day.
Play on the field was fierce as a surge of knees, fists and elbows were flying through the air. Play was stopped for about five minutes when UHS's Jane Kassen and Elizabethton's Lourean Hughes collided. Hughes continued to play while Kassen sat out the rest of the game.
The Lady Cyclones bounced back from being down 2-1 after senior Katie Presnell scored on a breakaway to tie the game with little time left.
"Katie Presnell did not panic when she took her shot; she placed it and did not kick to hard" said McClay of Presnell's poised kick to tie the game.
Both coaches sat down with their teams for awhile after the game ended. University High Coach Love said that they needed to work on hand balls.
"This game kind of humbled us and next time we will come out and play better" said Love.
Coach McClay said that defensively EHS improved and the fact that his team came back two times pleases him.
The Lady Cyclones are now 4-3-1 and they have two conference games coming up next. The first is versus Sullivan North whom they beat 2-0 already this year, and the next will be against Sullivan Central whom they tromped 7-0.
"The next two games are conference games and they are must wins" said McClay.
Elizabethton and University High will only face each other again this season if they meet in the playoffs.