Pittman slips past EHS girls

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff

   GATLINBURG -- Sooner or later a season must come to a close, but this season's Cinderella came home with much more than a moral victory. How about a nice dose of respect?
   Despite losing in the regionals 2-1 Tuesday night, the EHS girls soccer program has risen to the next level, proving they can play with the likes of Gatlinburg-Pittman.
   A well-played contest on both sides was unfortunately settled by a questionable call with mere minutes to play, resulting in the go-ahead score by the Highlanders.
   Cyclone skipper Bill McClay was pleased with his girls to be down about the loss.
   "When you get that close, it's hard to lose," said McClay. "But I think we played well."
   The Cyclones came out in the first half and for the first 10 minutes proved they could hang with any team in the area.
   The Lady 'Clones played mistake-free soccer and prevented the Highlanders from any sort of sustained attack -- until a slight miscommunication cost the Cyclones a goal.
   While trying to clear the ball out of the zone, the 'Clones surrendered the ball to the Highlanders' Deidra Dixon.
   Dixon took the ball down the boundary and scored from a steep angle to give the Highlanders an early 1-0 lead. For the remainder of the first half the Cyclone defense did a solid job of keeping its team in the game as Ashley Green contributed on defense while Tracey Smith did a good job in the middle.
   The second half saw the Cyclones come out of the blocks with some unbelievable intensity as Elizabethton went searching for the equalizer with a healthy dose of aggression.
   Seeing a need for speed up front, Coach McClay moved Green up to the wing in an effort to generate some offense. The move paid off.
   Green, along with Samantha McClay, continued to put pressure on the G.P. defenders until that persistence paid off early in the second half.
   Samantha McClay took the ball down the left sideline and made a couple of nice moves in order to free herself from the defense. Looking back to the middle, she struck a perfect cross to the trailing Green who headed home the tying goal.
   The picture-perfect score was good enough for a momentum boost and things looked to be in the Cyclones' favor, but that enthusiasm would slowly creep away.
   Gatlinburg began to press the attack, and spent a good deal of time harassing keeper Mary Gleason with a couple of tricky shots. Gleason responded on a point-blank shot by Helen Todd by stoning the Highlanders and keeping the game tied, as momentum slipped away.
   As Highlander forward Beth Oniel continued to hold the ball in the offensive zone, something bad was bound to happen. Unfortunately, it would not be in the Cyclones' favor.
   While dribbling in front of the penalty area, Todd had the ball stripped and turned to pursue on defense. In the process, she lost her feet and went to the ground.
   The play resulted in a foul call, and rewarded the 'Landers with a free kick from just outside the penalty area roughly 25 yards out.
   The Cyclones stood by helplessly as Todd struck a beautiful ball to Lauren Everhart, who headed the ball home to put the 'Landers in the lead for good.
   Elizabethton continued to press but could not draw even in the closing moments and fell by a tally of 2-1.
   After the game, Coach McClay had lots of positive reinforcement for his squad.
   "We played real well, and we've had a great year," he said. "I think we proved that we can play with the teams in our area. Next year we will have something to say."
   Thanks for the wonderful season ladies, with so many accomplishments this year. You have nothing to hang your heads over. Just think, you have helped to put another brand of futbol on the map in E-Town.