Junior striker Christine Hardin scored two goals, and had a third waved off for offside as Elizabethton rallied for a 2-2 tie with Greeneville on Thursday at Brown-Childress Stadium.
The draw keeps Elizabethton (4-3-1 overall) unbeaten in regional play at 4-0-1, but was a major step for the Lady Cyclones in proving they can stay with a state powerhouse.
“This was for first in the conference so this was huge,” Hardin said. “We were tied going in and stay that way coming out, but we have never been this close to beating Greeneville. We kept our intensity through the whole game, even when they scored.”
The opening portion of the contest was clearly in favor of the Lady Greene Devils as they were able to keep possession and had a couple of clean looks at the Cyclone goal.
“We got back on our heels a little bit defensively in the first 10-to-15 minutes,” said Lady Cyclones head coach Bill McClay. “That led to them scoring a goal, but we got the equalizer fairly quickly — I think within two minutes or so – so there was no letdown on our side.
“With the score 1-1 at halftime, we knew we were in the match.”
In the 10th minute Greeneville (5-5 overall, 5-0-1 conference) broke through on a breakaway goal from senior Nicole Ffyfe, which came from a clearing error in the EHS midfield.
Ffyfe took possession on the EHS side of the midfield stripe and broke in clean and fired a low shot past Cyclone goalkeeper Abby Stephenson.
Hardin got the equalizer in the 32nd minute on a pretty drive, in which Hardin split the last two Greene Devil defenders inside the goal box and beat Greeneville ‘keeper Caroline Quarles to even the match at 1-1.
“We had a few breakdowns defensively,” said Greeneville’s head coach John Eiskamp. “We knew they would be looking to get the ball to Christine. That’s no secret, she’s a great player and she knows where the goal is.”
Tiffany Barnette, Naomi Eberle, Paige Jones and Sophie Bremer were solid on the defensive backline against the aggressive Greeneville attack and enabled the Cyclones to counter effectively in the second half.
“We changed up our defense to show something new,” Hardin said. “We dropped a player back, and tried to possess the ball more than we normally do. All that combined enabled us to put pressure on them.”
In the second half, Greeneville took the initiative and broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute on a tally by junior Kelli Grissom. A ball placed over the top from the defensive midfield found Grissom outside the Cyclone goal box, and she put a nicely placed shot into the EHS net for a 2-1 Greene Devil advantage.
“We had the lead and could have had more,” said Eiskamp. “We missed on a few corner kicks that we didn’t cover the backside of the net on. You have to put the ball in the back of the net when you get the opportunity.”
Just three minutes later Hardin again scored the equalizer as she challenged the Greeneville back line all night on drives and was setup on some nice give-and-go plays from freshman Sarah Robinson.
“I had a couple of freshmen in there at different positions,” McClay said. “This is a deep team and we have good players that can go into the game at any point, so in that aspect we are fortunate.
“We came very close to a win tonight, but I’m not disappointed in a tie. We came back from a goal down, not once but twice and I think that bodes well for us.”
In the 70th minute Hardin took a pass down the sideline from Robinson and drove in on the Greeneville goal and struck a blast that beat Quarles cleanly, but the side judge ruled her offside so the goal was disallowed.