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icon Lady Bucs blank Elizabethton to stay unbeaten in league play

Douglas Fritz   • September 29, 2015, at 9:49 PM dfritz@johnsoncitypress.com 423-722-0551

press photoELIZABETHTON -— University High has enjoyed quite a season in the Three Rivers Conference, and nothing changed in that regard Tuesday night.

Battling a sometimes-heavy rain, the Lady Buccaneers sloshed their way to a 2-0 soccer victory over Elizabethton at Citizens Bank Stadium.

UH improved to 5-0 in league play, and 8-1-1 overall.

"I thought our possession was good," said UH head coach Dan Almond. "Elizabethton came out fired up at home, and we expected that. I'm just really proud we played the game the right way, possessed the ball and finished with talent."

Courtney Henley got UH started on the right foot, knocking one into the net with the game just 10 minutes old.

"Sarah Robinson had the ball out wide, and the goalie came out and Sarah crossed it to me, and I just tapped it in the goal," said Henley. "It made us feel better to get a goal early in the game."

The scored remained 1-0 until the 75th minute of the game, when Annika Oiler found the net.

"I think it was really important we got that second goal," said Oiler. "Even if they did score a goal, we would still come out with the win."

Almond said the good season is a product of talent combined with effort.

"The talent has always been there, and me being a first year coach with the girls it has been a real blessing to see them combine that with effort to provide some really good results," said Almond.

Elizabethton head coach Bill McClay said his team stayed competitive despite the early score, and did a better job overall in the second half. But he said there were still some areas where the Lady Cyclones fell a little short.

"When we had opportunities, we didn't make the most of them," said McClay. "We had a couple of opportunities we probably should have shot, but we made the extra pass."

© 2015 Johnson City Press






Almond joy: New coach has Jr. Bucs clicking


By NN Assistant on September 24, 2015 Featured, Local Sports

By Jeff Keeling


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They're young, they score in bunches, and their solid back line is giving up very little. It all adds up to a winning combination for the University High girls' soccer team under first-year coach Dan Almond.

The team improved to 6-0-1 in conference play and 6-1-1 overall with a dominating 5-0 home victory over David Crockett Thursday. The game avenged the only blemish on the Junior Lady Bucs record, a 1-1 tie at Crockett.

"We're doing very well this season," Almond said Friday.

Indeed, aside from a 4-1 loss to non-conference foe Tennessee High, UH has outscored its opponents 34-3 in those seven league games. The attack is led by junior Annika Oiler and sophomore Sarah Robinson, who combine in a two-forward setup and each have seven goals.

"They're very dangerous, they work well together, and they're very coachable," Almond said of the striker duo.

Behind them and initiating much of the magic are midfielders Grace Somich, a sophomore who has five goals and five assists, and co-captain Maya Houston. One of just three seniors on the squad, Houston also has five assists on the year.

"I've got four players in there that are just goal and assist machines and are just so coachable, it's been a real blessing to me for sure," said Almond, who is mixing an emphasis on possession with a counterattacking style.

"We always have a purpose of getting forward early, and if we don't have an advantageous opportunity to do that we're more than capable of keeping possession until we can," he said.

The Crockett rematch provided an example. Lexi Crouthers started the scoring at the eight-minute mark on an assist from Oiler, but a packed-in Crockett defense kept the Bucs from finding the net the rest of the half. Almond said he had altered the team's lineup and style to adjust to Crockett's defense, and in the second half it paid dividends.

UH pressed in the first minute, and Houston delivered a diagonal pass from about 30 yards out to Oiler, who was on the right side just outside the penalty box. "Annika took a little touch to the right and absolutely ripped the shot," Almond said. "I don't think a college goalkeeper would have saved that goal – it was really nice."

The Bucs would add two more goals in the next eight minutes. Courtney Henley scored on an assist from Oiler and Robinson scored assisted by Somich. Houston finished the scoring with 10 minutes left on a Robinson assist.

Almond, who took over the UH boys' program last spring, said the play style, and the team's depth of talent, has resulted in a total of 10 players having found the net so far this season.

On the other end of the field, he began the season without a bona fide goalkeeper. After trying out five different candidates, he settled on Samantha Shearin, a senior, but freshman Henley has shown flashes of great promise and is typically logging some significant second-half minutes.

When opponents do work the ball into UH's end, they have to contend with a back line anchored by senior co-captain Michaela Lane, whom Almond called "awesome with organizing.

"If there's a forward I need shut down she takes care of it. She's been huge in the back for us this season."

The defense will certainly need to step up once the postseason arrives. The team played at Happy Valley after News and Neighbor went to press Tuesday night, visits Elizabethton Sept. 29, and finishes its regular season on East Tennessee State University's pitch hosting Unicoi Oct. 1 and non-conference foe Sullivan Central Oct. 8.

The district tournament starts Oct. 12, and Almond is hoping for – expecting, really – a top two finish there and trip to regionals.

"I'd really like to see us win district," Almond said. "That would set us up to likely meet Greeneville in the regional final. That would be a good measuring stick for us."

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UH senior midfielder Maya Houston settles a ball. Photos by Bart Nave Photography. See photo galleries at: bart.ifp3.com

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UH junior striker Annika Oiler, left, races Crockett senior Jordan Lavasseur downfield.

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University High sophomore striker Sarah Robinson unleashes a shot.

©2015 Johnson City News and Neighbor




icon Early goals lift UH girls past Elizabethton

Dave Ongie  Sep 8, 2015 at 9:32 PM       dongie@johnsoncitypress.com 423-722-0551

pictureFor the first four minutes of Tuesday's match, University High created chaos along the backline of Elizabethon's defense.

The Lady Cyclones recovered quickly, but the damage was already done. Goals by Lexi Crouthers and Sarah Robinson staked the Lady Bucs to a quick 2-0 lead, and they held on for a 2-1 victory in a key District 1-A/AA matchup.

"You've got to play 80 minutes, not 76 minutes," said Elizabethton coach Bill McClay.

Crouthers scored before many folks in the crowd were even able to settle into their seats. As UH flooded the box, it appeared Elizabethton keeper Loran Campbell was going to be able to corral the ball and end the threat, but a pair of Lady Bucs crashed in just as she got her hands on the ball and jarred it loose.

That left Crouthers with possession at the top of the box, and she deposited the ball into the net with ease.

"I think Lexi coming and pushing up on that left wing was good, but I don't discount my two forwards coming through there, too, because they were creating some chaos and pressuring the goalie," UH coach Dan Almond said.

Two minutes later, the Lady Cyclones were back under duress as Robinson unleashed a shot from the right side of the box that bounced off an Elizabethton defender and caromed into the air. When the ball came down, Robinson was able to gather it at the top of the box before sending a sizzling shot into the net to push the advantage to 2-0.

Elizabethton settled in at that point and actually mounted an offensive that resulted in a goal by Lexi Williams less than 10 minutes in. But neither team was able to score in the final 70 minutes as the game settled into a stalemate that was borderline chippy at times.

Even though UH escaped with the win, the Lady Cyclones walked away feeling better about the way they played over the final 70 minutes than the Lady Bucs did.

"I think after we got the first couple goals, I think we started taking the foot off the gas pedal," Almond said. "I told the ladies you keep pushing no matter what the scoreline. I think at times we saw that in spurts, but I think overall in the game we did not play up to our capability tonight."

McClay, meanwhile, was left wondering what might have been if his team had somehow been able to get off to a better start.

"If we survive that, after that we get the goal and we start to push the game the other way," he said. "We played well. That's the way soccer goes. You have to eliminate your errors and make the most of your opportunities."

© 2015 Johnson City Press


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icon Lady Warriors sunk by Lady Bucs' offensive onslaught

By Ivan Sanders

Published 10:27pm Tuesday, September 1, 2015 Elizabethton Star

JOHNSON CITY — With a sea of pink on display at Kiwanis Park in support of breast cancer awareness, the Happy Valley Lady Warriors were looking to take down a pesky University High Lady Bucs team Tuesday evening in Region 1 soccer action.

The Lady Bucs proved to be too much for the Lady Warriors, however, as University used a constant barrage of attacks on goal to take a comfortable 8-0 win.

University wasted little time on building on a 1-nil advantage in the opening half as Annika Oiler blasted a netter inside the box to extend the lead to 2-0.

Just minutes later, Reilly Williams took one into the goal on a dead-on strike from 15 yards in front of the goal.

The Lady Bucs had an air of confidence taking the 3-0 advantage into halftime.

"I think starting out we didn't possess the ball the way I would have liked us to," the Lady Bucs' head coach, Dan Almond, said. "It was an exciting night with it being PinkOut Night. I thought we settled in and moved the ball very well in the second half, which created several scoring opportunities."

Indeed, the opportunities presented themselves multiple times in the second half as the Lady Bucs scored five more goals to cruise to the win.

Oiler found her second goal from 10 yards out while Lexi Crouthers blasted two goals into the net in the half as well.

Maya Houston and Gracie Somich also got into the scoring act with a goal apiece.

The score could have been more embarrassing had it not been for Lady Warrior goalkeeper Carley Tribble, who stopped no fewer than 10 more shots on goal, preventing any further damage.

The Lady Warriors produced only a couple of scoring opportunities as the defensive intensity of University crushed any potential drives to the goal.

It was a night of frustrations for both players and coach as the Lady Warriors' coach, Eddie Morrell, was unavailable for comment after the contest.

© 2015, www.elizabethton.com



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