Lady Cyclones Blitz North

By Rebecca Pierson
Asst. Sports Editor
rpierson@starhq.com

  The Elizabethton Lady Cyclones finished off the District 1-A/AA soccer semifinals at Brown-Childress Stadium Monday night with a 6-0 victory over the Lady Golden Raiders of Sullivan North.
  With the victory, the Lady Cyclones will host the championship on Thursday at 5:30 against the winner of tonight's game between University High and Sullivan Central.
  "The girls had a lot of distractions tonight and I am proud of them," Cyclone head coach Bill McClay said.
  The Lady Cyclones had to wait on a junior varsity football game that went into overtime.
  "Not knowing exactly when we were going to start and getting knocked out of your normal pre-game routine, they came out excited and focused as they have done this year," McClay said.
  "We did what we needed to do. We got up on them on early and that was the focus of what we wanted to do during the game today. We gave them a few chances in the second half when we got a little lazy. But it is hard whenever it is 5-0 to maintain their focus. They did a pretty good job and we didn't make any fatal mistakes."
  The Lady Cyclones got on the board in the fourth minute when Samantha McClay drove in an unassisted goal. Then three minutes later, Brianne Gouge got an assist from Natasha Baker for a 2-0 lead.
  The Cyclones dominated the first half by maintaining the ball on their end of the field and providing enough midfield pressure to prevent the Lady Raiders from getting anywhere near their goal.
  Gouge then banked in an unassisted goal in the 21st minute for a 3-0 lead.
  Then Samantha got fouled in the box and received a penalty kick for the fourth goal of the game in the 33rd minute, and then received an assist off of Gouge for a 5-0 lead, but more importantly, the goal tied the record for most career goals in Region 1.
  The second half opened up with North gaining some possession of the ball and attempting its first shot on goal for Elizabethton's goalkeeper, Sophia Murillo, to give her the lone save of the night.
  In the 25th minute, Samantha took over the Region 1 record with her 121st career goal and to lock in a 6-0 lead and the shot at the district championship.
  Sullivan North had two players shown the yellow card during the match, but the hardest worker for the Lady Raiders team was their goalkeeper, Lindsay Collins, who had 18 saves in the game.
  The Lady Cyclones had 19 shots on goal compared to the Lady Raiders one shot on goal.
  "It feels really to good to the record holder for the region," Samantha McClay said. "I was man-marked a bit tonight and took a penalty in the box. The ref made a good call regardless of what the other team said. We capitalized off of me being marked. Bri got two goals because they were more worried about me, which helps us a lot. We have other people who can finish and can help out the team.
  "We capitalized well off of their mistakes," she said. "We are going to play hard Thursday and we are going to win so we can keep that plaque. We have been runner-up even since I have been here I think. We are going to bring it home this time. We are going to get first place."
  The Lady Cyclones are reeling off a season of firsts for the team and they hope that they can keep that up throughout the following week.
  "We get to host the district final which we have never been able to do," Coach McClay said. "If we win that then we not only when the district but we get to host the first game of the regionals. Whoever we play on Thursday, we have beaten them before and we just need to do more of the same."
  Note: Look for a feature on Samantha McClay in tomorrow's edition of the Elizabethton Star.