Cyclones let Hilltoppers slide past, 4-1

Published 8:18 am Friday, March 20, 2015

by Bryce Phillips
Star Staff
At the rain-soaked Steve Spurrier Field, the Elizabethon Cyclones played a highly defensive game Thursday against the Hilltoppers.

“They played good,” Science Hill coach David Strickland said about EHS, after the Hilltoppers’ 4-1 win.  “. . .They played hard. They were well-organized.  As the game progressed, we had more and more of the ball and it kind of wore them down. We broke them down. I am totally impressed. They put up a great fight tonight.”

With the Hilltoppers, who took a total of 16 shots over the course of 80 minutes, bringing an aggressive offensive game, the Cyclones had to set back and play strong defensively. For a lot of the game, EHS was able to keep its shape as the Cyclones fended off shots from the Hilltoppers.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

EHS goalie Noah Lovelace played a crucial role in the Cyclones’ defense as he fended off eight shots-on-goal from the Hilltoppers. One save came in the second half when Lovelace dove to deflect a Science Hill shot.

“He played really well tonight,” EHS coach Bill McClay said about Lovelace “He had a couple of good stops.”
Complementing Lovelace’ goalkeeping was the EHS back line, who, according to coach McClay, are fairly new to the position.

“Out of our starting backs, only one played there last year,” McClay said. “So that is a brand new four back there. We still have some more coordination to work, while keeping our shape, which we were able to do early.”

With a team like Science Hill, who can maintain possession of the ball throughout a contest, a team has to stay relaxed and focused on their formation to not allow an opposing players to get open. However when a team becomes disorganized and starts focusing on going after the ball things begin to fall apart, McClay said. And EHS found themselves in that situation.

“ One of our issues tonight was when we didn’t relax— and chased,” McClay said. “That was when we ran into losing our focus. The guys started chasing the ball. Because one guy chases, then two chases, then three. That means that there two or three guys open.”

In a game where the Cyclones found themselves backed up on their side of the field, surprisingly it was EHS that struck the first blow. With 23:37 left in the first half, Cyclones’ Daniel Bolognese found some open space inside the penalty box to fire in the first goal of the game.

“That was a great, great goal,” Brinkley said about Bolognese shot. “That first goal was a fantastic finish.”

In the first half, the Hilltoppers started finding some rhythm as they knocked in three, the first of which came with 11:30 left in the first slice as Miller Franklin booted one in from close range.

As the clocked counted down from 3:18, Science Hill’s Alec Jacobs found the net to put the Hilltoppers up 2-1. The ’Toppers third goal came as Conner “Sunny” Regan booted the ball in from 20 yards out.

The Cyclones held their own in the second half, holding the Hilltoppers scoreless until extra time, when Pedro Martinez scored the last goal of the game.

Early in the contest the Cyclones had some good looks on the goal, one of which came when Pedro Teixeira found himself behind the Hilltoppers defensive wall, but was not able to capitalize. The Cyclones also had three corner kicks early in the game, but was not able to find the space needed to score.

Playing a nationally ranked and undefeated team like the Hilltoppers, gives the Cyclones a good chance to test themselves, McClay said.

“Like I told the guys, there are things that we have to keep doing well.,” McClay said. “Then if they expose some weaknesses then we know what we need to work on. Everything is positive.”

The Cyclones’ next matchup will be Tuesday as they square off with the first-year Happy Valley program.