Pigeon Forge bumps 'Betsy
By Rebecca Pierson
Asst. Sports Editor
The Elizabethton Lady Cyclones fell out of the Region 1-A/AA tournament Tuesday night by the Pigeon Forge Lady Tigers (11-4-2) by a 3-1 decision at Brown-Childress Stadium.
This finishes out the Lady Cyclones at 10-6-2.
"We went away with a winning record," Samantha McClay said. "We did beat University High, which was one of our goals, and we won the district. We came away with a good season regardless of the outcome tonight.
"I am really going to miss my friends," the senior said. "We were really close this year as a team, which is something that we hadn't been the past three years. I am really going to miss playing with my friends."
The Lady Cyclones came into the game with McClay and an opening shot on goal in the first minute, but the Lady Tigers equaled that intensity with a goal in the second minute by Latoshia Hopewell with an assist by Misty Tarbett.
McClay would try it again in the sixth minute, but the ball would bounce of the top post.
Then in the 10th minute, McClay received a penalty just feet shy of inside the box. Pigeon Forge Lawna Meade had the save off the kick but didn't hang onto it. Technically, Meade was under the net when she made the save, but the goal wasn't officially called until McClay came back around to bank the shot in to tie it up the game.
McClay and Mara LaPorte both had shots on goal before the half was up, but Hopewell backed in an unassisted goal in the 31st minute for a 2-1 lead.
After the half, McClay got another shot on goal off a direct kick but it was saved by Meade.
After that point, Pigeon Forge maintained control for the next 15 minutes applying good pressure at midfield and into Cyclone territory.
Around the 20-minute mark, the Lady Cyclones began to pick back up their momentum and McClay attempted three shots with two or three defenders on her the entire time.
LaPorte and Karin Kitchens would also have a shot in the next 10 minutes but then Hopewell would receive the pass from Amanda Socinshki for the goal and a 3-1 lead at the 35th minute. The goal was Hopewell's 22nd of her freshman season.
McClay would have another shot on goal, but the momentum was lost.
"Latosia has played competitive for a number of years," Lady Tigers head coach Kara Breeden said. "She has played that competitive soccer and it has given her an edge. She rises above the competition. In the past years we have gotten scored on and we have hung our head, so we preached this year that a goal is not going to kill you. You can come back from a goal. When you get that lead, that when you get so much momentum."
"We played our normal game, but our defense was aware that [McClay] had the shot and we made our girls aware that they have this one strong shooter [McClay]. Whenever she gets the ball you just have to make sure that you get in front of her."
The Lady Tigers will go on to play the winner of the Elizabethton versus Chuckey-Doak game on Thursday.
"Tonight we had a tendency, especially in the first half, to panic," Cyclone head coach Bill McClay said. "We had plenty of time on the ball and we would just turn and kick it and it always found [Pigeon Forge]. In the second half we had a couple of spurts where we were very aggressive and we kept the ball down here. We had it down here for about 10 minutes in a row and couldn't get anything going. It just broke down in the end."
"These seniors have had winning seasons all four years. We scored a lot of goals -- 60 this year. Psychology is a strange thing. There wasn't anything with this team that we haven't had to deal with this season. I think some of it was just not having played them and it was kind of this unknown."
"They weren't ready for it to be over tonight," he said. "I think that they expected to come out here and win. We got just caught a little flat-footed at the beginning of the game."