East opens season with 4-2 victory
Morristown East’s Carissa Dennison, center, battles a pair of Elizabethton defenders on a corner kick during Tuesday’s soccer match at Frank Lorino Park. Dennison scored a goal on a header on the play in the Lady Hurricanes 4-2 win over the Lady Cyclones.
It was a lightning strike that made the difference in a battle of meteorological phenomena Tuesday night at Frank Lorino Park.
After building a 2-nil lead at the half, the Morristown East Lady Hurricanes saw the Lady Cyclones of Elizabethton cut the lead to a single goal only minutes into the second period.
With an equalizer in the sight, the Lady Cyclones appeared the fresher squad, earning better chances and frequently winning possession in the midfield.
But then, West earned possession and niftily crossed the ball and advanced it up the pitch. They briefly were dispossessed in the midfield, but quickly won the ball back and sent it ahead freshman Michaeleah Porter who caught the Cyclones’ backline napping.
With the defense slow to react, the freshman raced up the left side of the attack, side-stepped a defender at the box and set herself up for a clean strike which she hammered home to reestablish the two goal lead.
Seconds later, sophomore Carissa Dennison, who provided the Hurricanes attack with a much-needed spark, hammered home a header off a corner kick to net East’s final tally and seal East’s season-opening win.
The Cyclones added a fluke goal late on a corner that the East keeper couldn’t handle and knocked into the goal.
“Any time you can get a win to start the season, it’s a positive,” ‘Canes’ coach James Kelley said. “We scored four goals against a well-coached and well-disciplined team.”
Still, even with the 4-2 win, the match was far from perfect for the Lady ‘Canes, especially in the second half. There were too many times Elizabethton was able to keep possession in the Hurricanes’ end and dictate the run of play, Kelley said.
There were too many times the Cyclones were quicker to the ball.
“If I’m honest they outworked us a little bit,” he said. “We got lucky to start with. To begin the game they had three really good chances, it could have easily been 3-1. We got lucky there and then we showed our quality and finished with four good goals.”
Senior star Liza Kohler stood out for East in the midfield, but it was a pair of outstanding individual efforts that put the ’Canes’ up in the first half.
Porter got thing started, as she used a cut back onto her right foot to set up a nice curling shot for a goal from 30 yards out. Monica Garcia, a junior, cut around a defender and pressured the defenseless keeper, burying a textbook finish.
The Cyclones responded to start the second half as Sarah Robinson found some space in the middle of the ’Canes’ defense and hammered the ball home.
Elizabethton appeared on the fringe of making a real run at an equalizer when East responded with some deft passing across the back and up into the midfield to set up Porter’s second strike.
“We’ve been working at practice specifically on these simple passes and working the ball together. It’s a team sport. You can make it really easy if you use your other 10 team members,” Kelley said. “You saw that to set up the goal. They worked the ball. There were probably seven or eight other people involved in the possession. You know we lost, it and we won it back and sent her off on her own little run and we have quality players that can finish.”
Moments later Dennison put it out of reach, winning the ball on a corner between three defenders. She nearly made it 5-1 going all out on a breakaway, outrunning one defender and fighting over another’s tackle attempt. Only the outstanding effort of keeper Loran Campbell, who charged and deflected the ball, kept Dennison from finishing the attack.
“She’s one that she’ll chase anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s 30 yards in front of her, she’ll chase it down and she’ll put the defense under pressure,” Kelley said. “That mentality is really hard to teach. As a freshman, you could tell she was timid but she’s really grown into her role as a sophomore.”
Despite the late mistake, East keeper Kasey Williams had a pretty strong outing.
“She was just kind of thrown into the goal this summer so everything you’ve seen, she just picked up this summer,” he said. “She made some really good saves. She had the one individual error, but other than that, a quality first start for her.”
-By John Gullion, Tribune Managing Editor