Looking to make some noise in Region 1-A/AA girls’ soccer, Elizabethton has one of its deepest teams ever, while University High has to replace 10 graduated seniors from last year’s talented team.
The Lady Cyclones are 1-2 overall, but 1-0 in league play after a 2-0 decision over the Junior Bucs in their season opener.
Elizabethton head coach Bill McClay, however, has numbers in his favor with 34 players overall, able to easily go 18-20 deep throughout a contest.
“That’s almost one of every 10 girls in this school playing soccer,” McClay said. “They work hard and are enthusiastic about playing. It’s provided great competition on the team.”
It starts at the goal, where senior Abby Stephenson is the keeper with freshman Sarah Robinson a capable backup.
The Lady Cyclones also offer big time scoring threats with junior Christine Hardin, who is also participating in football and cross country this fall, junior Katie Adams and freshman Hannah Adams at forwards.
“With her, we try to get the ball to a dangerous place,” McClay said about Hardin. “We have to have some other people show they’re dangerous too, to take some of the pressure off her.”
That task falls in large part to a talented group of midfielders who include senior Brittany Clark, Jill Ross and Allison Williams, along with freshmen Jessica Pearce, Sophie Bremer and Robinson.
Seniors Tiffany Barnett and Naomi Eberle head up a group of defenders along with Jessie Ryans and sophomores Paige Jones and Clarissa Ceffalo. Like Hardin, Ceffalo is a multi-talented athlete, the defending state wrestling champion.
McClay said he’s still trying to find the 11 players who mesh the best together. He added it could end up a rotation of about 15 different players who fill the 11 spots depending on the field and the matchup.
While Elizabethton sorts through its lineup, the Lady Jr. Bucs are off to a 1-3 start heading into tonight’s game against Morristown West.
Among University High’s early results are a 4-1 win over Chuckey-Doak and the aformentioned loss to the Lady Cyclones which head coach Victor Chirica took away some positives.
“I was happy how the game turned out,” he said. “We had a lot of chances of finishing goals. I was happy how the team played.”
Savannah Wexler (Soph.) and Pippa Eliola (Jr.) are the team’s top scoring threats as forwards, while Sarah Mast (Sr.) and Bella Bright (Soph.) are each solid midfielders.
Other seniors are a pair of fullbacks — Tory Pohlgeers and Brittany Bennett.
Among the top defenders are Mikki Burke (Sr.) and Inge Wood (Soph.), while Taylor Treadway, a sophomore who hadn’t played soccer since the youth leagues, has stepped in to provide an athletic goalkeeper.
Chirica mentioned a few others as key players including junior Kaitlyn Greene, whom he called the glue which keeps the team together.
Barrett Wherry (Soph.) and McKenzie Taylor (Fr.) give UH a couple of versatile players capable of playing a variety of positions. He also mentioned Emily Hoover and CoCo Strickland as a couple of freshmen with the potential of developing into good high school players.