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Cyclones clinch home playoff game with a win over Devils

BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN

STAR CORRESPONDENT

A small change in the backline paid major dividends for the Elizabethton Cyclones boys soccer team on Tuesday night. Senior defender Holston Howard scored four goals and assisted on two others in EHS 7-nil win over Unicoi County in District 1-AA action.

“We switched our formation at the beginning of this week and we realized we had a lot of talks but we needed more than that,” Howard said. “Plus, it enabled some of us to get up the field and that helped us.

“We talked in practice about not rushing things with the ball, slowing it down, and giving everyone back defending time to get up the field.”

EHS (10-4-2, 3-1 conference) got on the board in the third minute when Howard sent a corner kick into the penalty area where senior Kerry Williams header found the back of the Blue Devils net for a 1-nil lead.

In the 24th minute, Howard scored with an assist from junior Isaac Hurley and the Cyclones took a two-goal advantage into the halftime break. One minute into the second half junior Clay Hopland scored after taking a long crossing pass from Howard and settling the ball near the sideline.

Hopland then drove toward the corner and let loose a high floating shot that Unicoi County goalkeeper Kenny Meza leaped for but was unable to reach as it settled into the far corner of the frame.

Two minutes later Howard gave the Cyclones a 4-nil lead with his second tally of the contest. Howard’s second goal was a sample of his ability to dribble and drive with the ball and his breakaway into the Devils penalty area was a single-minded effort that UC (5-7-1) could not handle effectively.

“We need to keep the pace of possession up,” Cyclones head coach Bill McClay said. “When we move the ball quickly, I think we created a few more opportunities.

“We had some good looks and opportunities and scored on some set plays. A lot of good things happened, simply by not rushing when we got the ball on our foot, so our possession was good.”

Another corner kick from Howard again found Williams who scored for the second time in the match for a 5-nil EHS advantage.

That goal came in the 51st minute and Howard came through again in the 64th minute scoring an unassisted goal and once again with 10 minutes remaining in the match when his free kick from 25 yards out found the back of the net on a laser shot.

The Cyclones backline was responsible for six of the seven goals scored and showed that the formation change had a positive effect in the EHS attack, enabling Howard, Williams, and Braden Holly to become more involved in the offensive end.

Coach McClay was pleased with how his team reacted to the change saying, “I was trying to get the guys on the same page to where they should be able to read what each other are doing and not just kind of guess and make good passes.

“The first touch is important, as is intent, and I thought we did a pretty good job of knowing where the attack was flowing to. And we have experimented with it a few times this year and we may continue with it as we move forward.”

EHS 7-0

Unicoi Co. 0 0 – 0

EHS 2 5 – 7

Scoring Summary

First Half

E – K. Williams (assist Howard) 3:00

E – Howard (assist I. Hurley) 24:00

Second Half

E – Hopland (assist Howard) 41:00

E – Howard (unassisted) 43:00

E – K. Williams (assist Howard) 51:00

E – Howard (unassisted) 64:00

E – Howard (FK – unassisted) 70:00