Johnson City Press Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sports High schools

UH on right track in reshaped A-AA soccer

April 11th, 2014 9:56 pm by Douglas Fritz

University High and Elizabethton used to be on an island, and therefore were forced by the TSSAA to join up with teams like Greeneville, Grainger and Cumberland Gap for a far-flung soccer region.

Now the Cyclones and Buccaneers have their own little league since Sullivan South moved to the Class A-AA ranks.

Right now, the Rebels (1-0-1) and Buccaneers (1-0-1) have the upper hand in league play over the Cyclones (0-2-0). But each of the teams will play again, and then they will do it all over in the district tournament.

Here's an update look at University High and Elizabethton:

University High

The Buccaneers have struggled a bit against the bigger schools, but where it counts they are right on track.

UH defeated Elizabethton in a recent match, and earlier this season played to a 1-1 tie against Sullivan South. Head coach Victor Chirica said his team should have had the win against the Rebels.

"We hit the post twice, and we pretty much dominated the game," said Chirica. "They had a free kick from about 30 yards away in the last minute and a half of the game, and they were very lucky the ball went over our goalkeeper and went in. It was pretty much the only chance they had."

Leading the way for UH, which has a record of 2-3-1 overall, is a strong and consistent defense. Seniors Johnny Burke and Alex Destefano join Logan Webb to create a wall in front of goalkeeper Luke Wexler.

"I like what I see," said Chirica. "They work together really well, and they know each other. They've played together for quite some time. They understand the game."

In the midfield, Chirica relies on two of the team's top players: senior Wesley Ongtengco and junior Lowell Williams.

"They help the team a lot," said Chirica. "They control the ball very well, and they are very skillful players. They are technique players. I've been blessed to have them in there, and I'm very happy with the job they do."

Up top, sophomore Dani Houston has been the main man.

"He's good with both feet," said Chirica. "He's a very technical player."

Overall, Chirica said he feels good about the way his team is performing.

"I feel pretty confident," he said. "But you never know how the kids are going to play. One day they are good, and the next day they aren't.

"We need to work on communication on the field, and be more disciplined. We need to be more serious about the game."

Chirica said he expects a tougher game if his team meets Elizabethton again, and Greeneville is once again expected to be the top team in the region.

Elizabethton

It starts with Pedro Teixeira. The problem is opponents know it starts with Teixeira.

"When he steps on the field, every team knows who he is," said Cyclones' head coach Bill McClay. "If you don't account for him, he will put it in the net. But against a couple of the better teams, they were able to kind of negate him."

Still, Teixeira has scored 15 goals as the Cyclones are off to a 4-5 start after a 4-0 win over David Crockett on Thursday. For his career, Teixeira has 40 goals despite just being a sophomore.

"He strikes the ball really well, and sees the field really well," said McClay. "He has the potential to move on to the next level."

Teixeira gets help up top from junior striker Anthony Ceffalo. Chances should be there for goals because of the Cyclones' attacking strategy.

"They want to go forward, and they are looking for opportunities," said McClay. "We just have to be smarter and get better at connecting. The better teams take away simple things."

Leading the way in the midfield are senior Stephen Gouge, junior Isaac Fife and freshman Dante Callahan.

In the back, senior Austin Vanhoy takes command and gets plenty of help from sophomores Michael Robinson and Daniel Bolognese. Freshman Noah Lovelace mans the goal.

McClay said he believes his team is still in the mix in the Three Rivers Conference.

"I know we can play with South," said McClay. "We need to prove we can play with UH. The opportunity is still there. We will get a shot in the playoffs regardless."

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