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District 1-A/AA Champions! 

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icon UH falls in OT in region semifinals

Collin Brooks • October 20, 2015 at 9:48 PM

soccer photoThe University High Lady Bucs seemed to have an answer for almost everything throughout the season, but that magic was tapped as soon as overtime started against Chuckey-Doak on Tuesday night at Civitan Park.

A free kick by Chuckey-Doak's Kira Winter from the top left corner of the goal box, which soared just out of the reach of the University High keeper, just minutes into overtime, delivered a 4-3 victory for the Lady Black Knights in the Region 1-A/AA semifinals.

"I think every time that we went down the ladies responded really well and showed a lot of fortitude coming back again, again and again," Brown said. "I can't be more proud of them, Chuckey-Doak was a good team tonight."

The Lady Bucs were led by sophomore Sarah Robinson who finished the night with a hat trick. Her most important goal coming with under five minutes remaining in regulation, when her shot forced the Chuckey-Doak keeper to bobble the ball and misplace it into the net. That tied the game at three, just minutes before regulation was set to stop.

"When she get's the ball any where around the 18 she is dangerous," Brown said. "I'm looking forward to see what the future holds for her."

Chuckey-Doak was the first team on the board when Emily Morrison was able to break away from the defense and beat the keeper to give her team the 1-0 lead four minutes into the contest. Robinson answered that with her first goal of the night, which found the back of the net five minutes later to tie the contest.

But the Lady Black Knights were able to break away again, when Winter completed a penalty kick, after a trip in the box, to give her team the 2-1 lead 24 minutes into the contest.

It was Robinson, again, that made things even just minutes later when she cleaned up the keeper's mistake to find the back of an empty net to make the score 2-2.

The lead was taken by the Lady Black Knights when University High's goal keeper Samantha Shearin was given a yellow card after a collision in the box. That set up a penalty kick for Morrison, who delivered on her second goal the night to allow her team to take the 3-2 lead.

Despite the result, it was a successful season for the Lady Bucs, according to their coach.

"From being the first team that was undefeated in the conference, ever, I was very proud of them," Brown said. "Then finishing off and winning the conference championship and 12 wins for the season, after only having three or four last year. I couldn't be more proud of them."

In Tuesday's other Region 1-A/AA semifinal, Elizabethton's girls lost 6-0 to Greeneville.

The Lady Green Devils grabbed a quick 2-0 lead, getting goals from Elissa McIntosh in the third minute and Jessica Sallah in the sixth.

Kenzie Ellenburg netted two goals on the night for Greeneville, while Lexie Gregg and Lauren Albright tacked on one apiece.

Greeneville (20-2) and Chuckey-Doak (17-2) both earned state sectional berths with Tuesday's wins. The teams will meet Thursday night to determine the Region 1-A/AA champion. 

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 © 2015 Johnson City Press


icon Last-minute goal lifts Jr. Lady Bucs to conference title

By Jeff Keeling

press photo They had dominated possession and unleashed shot after shot, but with two minutes left in overtime, the University High Junior Lady Bucs appeared to be headed toward a penalty kick shootout with Elizabethton in Thursday's district championship game.

press photoThen, sophomore forward Sarah Robinson found herself just outside the top of the penalty box with the ball on her foot once again and several Cyclone defenders closing on her. The left-footer made a couple of quick moves before unleashing a low, curling shot from the 18-yard line that barely missed a Cyclone Linda Espino's shinguard and rocketed into the back of the net inside the left post.

The goal gave University High (12-1-1) a 1-0 win.

The late heroics negated a bevy of missed opportunities – Robinson's shot was the team's 20th, compared to two for Elizabethton – lifting UH to the conference title and a home date against Chuckey-Doak Tuesday night. A win at Civitan Park (the game occurred after News and Neighbor press time) would guarantee the first substate appearance in the team's history.

"I told my forwards, even if you miss the first 18 you keep shooting and something good's going to happen," Coach Dan Almond said after the game.

"I'm confident in all my forwards," Almond added.

"Sarah's been a real asset to us this year and obviously she has a killer sense for finishing. I shifted her over to the middle right at the end, and thankfully it worked out well."

Almond said he didn't want the game to go to a shootout. Elizabethton goalkeeper Loran Campbell had six saves and had saved a goal in a shootout win against Sullivan South two nights earlier. "I told the ladies, 'we're not playing for penalties, we're playing to win,'" Almond said.

©2015 Johnson City News and Neighbor



icon Robinson lifts University High to 1-A/AA championship


Collin Brooks • Updated Oct 15, 2015 at 10:03 PM pictureJust when it seemed like the game would head into sudden-death overtime, it was University High's Sarah Robinson that nailed a golden goal for the Lady Bucs.

With under two minutes remaining in the second overtime, Robinson was able to use her left foot to send the ball to the right side corner of the net, which delivered the Lady Bucs a 1-0 victory over Elizabethton on Thursday night at Summers-Taylor Stadium during the District 1-A/AA Championship.

The win allows University High (12-1-1) to host Chuckey-Doak (16-2), who lost to Greeneville 6-0 on Thursday night. Elizabethton (7-9-2), will be forced to travel to take on the Greeneville (19-2).

But the next game was far from the mind of University High coach Dan Almond, who seemed to be just as exhausted, both mentally and physically, as his girls.

"You go into that double-overtime and you just have to dig in and usually, whoever works harder, comes away with those games. But I have to give all the credit in the world to Elizabethton, they have a great team and a great coach, but I am really proud of my ladies tonight."

The fact that Robinson was able to end the game was fitting as she had been a thorn in the side of the Lady Cyclones all night, but on the final shot, she admittedly just tried to use her left foot to get it in front of the keeper and see what happened.

"I am still pretty shocked," Robinson said. "I was afraid that it was going to go way off to the right, because I couldn't even see where the goalie was, so I just tried to hit it in the corner. Coach Dan just told us to keep feeding the ball and it would eventually go in and he was right."

The Lady Bucs had a steady handle on the shot attempts as they were able to pull off 20 shots to Elizabethton's 2. The size of the field and the mental drain from playing the past three nights seemed to wear down the Lady Cyclones.

"It took us a while to adjust to the field, the girls didn't quite know, when they're used to the ball running out of bounds and it doesn't now, there was just more space," Elizabethton coach Bill McClay said. "We played 120 minutes on Tuesday, and then the psychology stress of yesterday and then to have to come back and play 110 minutes today, I think that seemed to play into it at the end."

University High had ample opportunities during the second half to put a goal in the back of the net, but whether it was the play of Elizabethton keeper Campbell, or a miscue by the Lady Bucs, they weren't able convert.

The Lady Cyclones first shot of the contest came in the 52nd minute when Linda Espino attempted a free kick from just outside the goal box. Her shot was on target but floated just over the crossbar.

University High will play their next contest at Civitan Park on Tuesday.




 © 2015 Johnson City Press


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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