Lady 'Clones unseats UH for district supremacy

Asst. Sports Editor

  The Elizabethton Lady Cyclones (10-5-2) have finally gotten what they have been waiting on for years -- a District 1-A/AA tournament championship over the Lady Jr. Lady Bucs. 'Betsy downed rival University High by a 3-0 victory Thursday night on Dave Rider Field.
  "It was just flat out awesome," junior Natasha Baker said. "Last year we were so sad. Now, just to see the look on everybody's faces, especially the seniors, I am sure that this made their year. We just wanted to see (the Lady Bucs') cake crumble."
  The team will now advance into the regionals to be played at home next Tuesday against either Pigeon Forge or Chuckey-Doak. The 'Betsy team was beaten by Chuckey-Doak, 4-1, earlier in the season.
  "It feels pretty good because we finally got them," Cyclone head coach Bill McClay said. "This was something that we had set out to accomplish this season. We first got the home field and then won this match. We haven't had this win at home. Finally after many years, losing three years in a row to this team, it felt really good to get."
  The Cyclones' Samantha McClay hit the paydirt in the 12th minute with the opening goal. 'Betsy maintained possession most for the first half and was taking a handful of shots in the opening 20.
  University High was making plenty of mistakes in the opening minute, but made its biggest mistakes of the game in the closing minutes of the first half.
  Lauren Slipek would take a yellow card with four minutes left, then Lauren Kimmel took the yellow and then the red one minute later to pull herself out of the game for good.
  Elizabethton walked off the field at the half with only a one-point lead.
  The Cyclones took the possession at the start of the second, and McClay found the net again when she was fouled and took a direct kick 45 yards away from the goal.
  She would take another direct kick in the eighth minute, but the goal was saved by Jr. Buccaneer goalkeeper, Ada Reynolds.
  In the 15th minute, Mara LaPorte had a shot on goal that was deflected by University's Claire Bingham, but it bounced right back into McClay's territory and she banked the shot in the upper left-hand corner of the net for a 3-0 lead.
  'Betsy goalkeeper Sophia Murillo had five saves in the game while Reynolds had three saves.
  "I have had one shutout this season," Murillo said. "This being a district championship, and a shutout feels pretty good. A 3-0 victory was exactly how they beat us the very first time that I played them. It just feels good. We did not give them even a chance.
  "To tell you the truth, Central beat UH one time and then they played them again in the semifinals, and I prayed that is was U.H. [who would win]. I didn't want it to be Central. It wouldn't have felt the same. It really wouldn't have been.
  "Having helped out our seniors, even if we lose to Pittman, which we won't, it will still be memorable for them because they have never won the district," she said. "They have never had homefield advantage for the district final. It is just all around good. It is mentally scary to think that we will be playing in the regionals."
  For those seniors, this win is what they have been asking for their entire high school career.
  "This is so awesome," an ecstatic senior Karin Kitchens said. "We have waited four years for this. This is my fourth time playing UH in the district, and we finally won."
  Coach McClay was just as pleased with the win as the team and the Lady Cyclone fans were.
  "Sammy had a great game," he said. "We got the ball to her in some dangerous positions, which paid off. It was a pretty good game. Defensively, we played real well. They had a couple of chances but we didn't give them any real good looks at the goal. Sophia played really good coming out when she needed to.
  "Even for some of the girls who are first year (players), the seniors have been through the other three. Two years ago, we lost to them twice, both in overtime, in district and regional play. They have been through it all. For the seniors, this was a big, big thing. Plus, we have never been home for the first regional semi."