Lady Cyclones’ 2nd-half surge tames HV

Published 11:15 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2015

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For 51 minutes Tuesday evening at Citizens Bank Stadium, Happy Valley knew what it felt like to be in contention for a conference victory. Down just 4-2 in the 51st minute, the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones came out of hibernation with four goals in the last 21 minutes for an 8-2 victory in girls soccer action.

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The Cyclones (4-6,2-2 conference) took a two-goal lead in the first 24 minutes of the match on goals by Caitlyn Gardner and Haley Burleson, only to be surprised by a Lady Warriors counter punch as Kenzie Cummings scored a goal with an assist from Morgan Mallasch to make it a 2-1 game.

“The mark of a really good team is to keep your stamina to the end,” Lady Warriors head coach Eddie Morrell said. “We aren’t there yet. We may get closer next year, but we aren’t yet. When we played and had our stamina in the first half, we showed we can play against anyone. I think we proved that in the first half.

“These girls worked hard and refused to stop until they got what they wanted.”

That score stayed constant through the first half, but EHS opened the second half with another goal from Burleson in the 43rd minute, the second of four goals that she would score in this match. She headed in a shot off a rebound of a clearing kick inside the HV penalty area and gave EHS a 3-1 advantage.

Three minutes later, Gardner scored again for the Cyclones to give EHS a 4-1 lead. That changed six minutes later when Mallasch scored for HV (0-5 -1, 0-3-1 conference) with an assist from Cummings that cut the lead in half.

“Give all credit to (HV),” Lady Cyclones head coach Bill McClay said. “They are a lot more disciplined. Their keeper played a great game. I was a little disappointed in our finishing. They didn’t give us any breakaways, and we didn’t really challenge the keeper in the first half.

“We didn’t move the ball very well in the first half, and some of that was due to HV settling back deep. We just need to take what they give us and move the ball through the midfield and find the seams to go to the goal.”

The Cyclones made those words prophetic almost immediately as Lexi Williams scored on a great crossing pass from Burleson and she fired a low shot past HV goalkeeper Calley Tribble, just inside the right post.

EHS had three fine passes on that sequence that started from the home sideline with Cortlyn Holdren near the penalty area. She sent a pass to the foot of Burleson in the middle, and after taking a dribble to her left, she found Williams charging toward the net for the finish.

“In the second half, we started laying those passes through,” McClay said. “We started splitting their backs, and we didn’t finish them all off, but we did get a pair of goals doing that. We scored on a head ball and made some very good crosses. There are still some things to work on, but the time of the game being changed, and it could be a game you play when you’re out of school or whatever, it kind of makes everyone change their routine.”

The ball did not come out of the Warriors’ end of the field very often after that as Burleson scored again in the 64th minute and Williams finished on another assist from Burleson as EHS now led 7-2.

It was Burleson once again in the 70th minute to make the final tally 8-2.

EHS finished with a 17-5 advantage in shots on goal, but the Lady Warriors’ back line defended several more.

“Defensively, we are not even close to being the same team as last year,” Morrell said. “Now we are more than capable of holding our own defensively. The goal differential this year is six or seven. Last year it was double digits, and this year, most of our games have been five goals or fewer.”

EHS remains home Thursday as Unicoi County comes calling for a 6 p.m. conference match.