Lady 'Clones blank 'Canes

By Allen LaMountain
ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
awlamountain@starhq.com

   On "Senior Night" Tuesday at Brown-Childress Stadium, a dynamic sophomore led the way for Elizabethton. Samantha McClay netted four goals and an assist, but fell just short of tying a school record for goals in a game as the Lady Cyclones dominated Morristown East 6-0.
   'Betsy improved to 8-7 overall as it shook off some early sloppy play and began to put serious pressure on the Morristown East goal.
   "We played a little tentative early, but once we scored that first one I knew we would be all right," said EHS coach Bill McClay. "The thing was getting someone to spark us."
   McClay had a hat-trick in the first half -- scoring on three of her first four shots on goal -- as 'Betsy raced to a 4-0 halftime advantage over the Lady Hurricanes (2-11 overall).
   "She's so good," commented Morristown East head coach Michael Crosby. "We couldn't mark her all night. We have such a young team here -- nine seniors graduated last year -- so we are starting over basically. But McClay is a top-notch player, she can go as far as she wants to. I would like to see how it would be if you took number two off their team though."
   It wasn't all McClay for 'Betsy, however, as sophomore Leslie Blowers scored before the end of the first half, jumping on one of several miscues by the inexperienced Lady 'Canes.
   Blowers cruised into the East goalbox to the keepers right as Ashley Green brought the ball in. The ball struck several sets of legs as it was sent into the box -- as Morristown East couldn't clear -- before Blowers hammered it home to give the Lady Cyclones a four-nil lead.
   "I have been stressing defense all year, since we have trouble scoring," said Crosby. "Tonight we ran into a good team. I think the girls played hard and played their best, especially my keeper Brooks Gaut. She keeps us in most games herself."
   The second half saw McClay net her 21st goal of the season on a left-footed blast at the 54-minute mark. McClay and Green attacked from the center with McClay going to the home sidelines. Green drew the defender and sent a pass in to McClay, who beat Gaut just inside the right post.
   In the waning moments of the game sophomore Emily Shook scored off an assist from McClay. McClay had the ball to Gaut's right and was ridden off the ball, but poked a kick at the goal from where Shook sent it in to the far post for her first goal.
   "It was a similar game to the last one we played against them," said McClay. "We got everyone into the game, everyone was involved. Leslie and Emily both scored goals and we were able to do pretty much what we wanted to. We now have a week until the playoffs to get ready."
   McClay seemed to have scored a record-tying fifth goal, which would have tied her with Luke Carrier as the only EHS players with five-goal games, but the goal was waved off by the middle ref for a 'Betsy off-side penalty.
   McClay finished the regular season with 21 goals and four assists for 46 points and once again led the region in scoring.
   EHS notes: Seniors Abby Bremer and Tracey Smith were honored in a pre-game ceremony and given flowers and a mini soccer ball. In the contest each played well as Smith and Bremer anchored the 'Betsy defense.
   Both girls have seen the EHS soccer program come a long way since they were freshmen.
   Smith said: "It was exciting to win on senior night. We have come a long way since freshman year, and I'll miss playing with my team."
   Bremer echoed those statements, saying: "I hope we can have a long run in the playoffs, because I will hate it when it ends and I have to leave my teammates."