ELIZABETHTON — Having played a close game against Cosby in the regular season and losing at this point in the postseason for several years, it would stand to reason Elizabethton wouldn’t mess around very much.
However, as a Lady Eagles’ shot whipped just outside the post in the waning seconds, it was clear the Lady Cyclones cut things very close. Elizabethton won 2-1 in the semifinals of the Region 1-A/AA soccer tournament Tuesday night at Rider Field.
The Cyclones (10-4-4) advanced to Thursday’s championship game, where it will play at Greeneville at 6 p.m. The Greene Devils earned their spot with a 5-0 win over Grainger.
Elizabethton got a nice enough start to the game as Christine Hardin knocked in a penalty kick in the third minute.
Then in the 25th minute, Hardin struck again. She hit a high line drive diagonal shot from about 20 yards out to give the Cyclones a 2-0 lead. It looked like they were well on their way to a blowout, but it never materialized.
“I felt like we could have come out and gotten five more goals,” said Hardin. “But we got a little too comfortable. We let it get to 2-1, and that was dangerous.”
And the timing of it was dangerous. Cosby scored just before halftime, in the 38th minute, when Sunshine Mayfield knocked one home.
It left head coach Bill McClay scratching his head a little bit.
“We just weren’t all there tonight,” said McClay. “We would play decently, and then we would make critical errors with our feet. And we didn’t make shots.”
Last year the Cyclones wasted a 3-0 lead late in the second half in the regional semifinals, and their season came to a close. But the Cyclones found a way to finish this time, and McClay said the play of midfielder Brittany Clark was an important part of it.
“She played well in the second half especially,” said McClay.
In the final analysis, this year the Cyclones are still moving on and have qualified for Saturday’s sectional round, where a trip to the state tournament will be at stake.
To get that game at home, Elizabethton will need to beat Greeneville. The two teams tied in their regular season match.
“I don’t think we will have any intensity issues,” said McClay.
Said Hardin, “We’ve got to play like we did the first time, and even better.”
Greeneville 5, Grainger 0
Kendall Shelton scored twice to pace the Greene Devils, who led 4-0 at halftime.
Also scoring for Greeneville were Kelli Grissom, Courtney Alley, and Lynae Wilder.