BY DARREN REESE
ELIZABETHTON - The Greeneville and Elizabethton girls' soccer teams have put together quite the rivalry in northeast Tennessee.
They have met four times over the past two seasons, and each time the score has been tied at the end of regulation, including Thursday night in the Region 1-A/AA tournament championship game.
Elizabethton scored two goals toward the end of the first half to take a 3-1 lead, only to see the Lady Devils storm back to tie the game down the stretch. Overtime belonged the Lady Cyclones, however, as they got a pair of goals in a two-minute stretch to pull away for a 5-3 victory.
"We just made some poor choices on defense," Greeneville head coach John Eiskamp said. "I was proud of the girls for the way they fought to come back in the second half, but we just have to do a better job tracking the ball."
The win gave Elizabethton its second consecutive region title. The Lady Cyclones defeated Greeneville on penalty kicks in 2011. The two teams tied during their regular season match-up this season when Elizabethton scored the equalizer in second-half stoppage time.
Greeneville's season isn't over, though. The Lady Devils will travel to Region 2 champion Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK) Saturday for a Class A/AA state sectional contest. It will be a rematch of last year's sectional round, a game in which CAK won 5-0.
"They (CAK) pounded us pretty bad last year," Eiskamp said. "Again, it's up to the girls. Are they up to the challenge of going down there and playing the No. 1 team in the state? We'll see."
Elizabethton is set to host Region 2 runner-up Gatlinburg-Pittman, which is also a sectional rematch from a year ago. The Lady Highlanders won that contest.
"I think we can play with them (G-P)," Elizabethton head coach - said. "Nobody on the team had been to a sectional game, so we were a little nervous. We gave up a goal five minutes into the game and we were chasing from then on."
"It won't be that way (this year)."
Unlike this year's regular season meeting, when Greeneville out-shot Elizabethton 19-0 in the first half, the Lady Cyclones came out firing in the first half.
They took the early 1-0 lead in the 19th minute when Abbi Carey scored off a corner kick.
Greeneville answered with a goal from Olivia Collier a couple of minutes later, but disaster struck the Lady Devils as the clock wound down on the first half.
With three minutes left in the first half, Christine Hardin got free in the box and powered through a shot to put Elizabethton back in front. Then, in first-half stoppage time, Hannah Adams was awarded a penalty kick and drove it home to make the score 3-1 at intermission.
Hardin, who is also the place kicker for the Elizabethton football team, now has 37 goals on the season. She scored four in the Lady Cylcones' semifinal win over Chuckey-Doak.
"After last year, we knew (Hardin) was going to be the dominating force for their team," Eiskamp explained. "I told them, we've got to deny her the shot, deny her the pass, and we'll be ok."
"But when we let her dribble through and get a shot off like that, she's dangerous."
At halftime, Eiskamp challeneged his girls to score a goal in the first five minutes of the second half. Katelynn Hadjopoulos happily obliged when she scored off a throw in just three minutes into the period.
Kelli Grissom then tied the game at 3-3 in the 63rd minute when she headed in a ball near the back post.
Greeneville had an opportunity to put the game away in second-half stoppage time. Collier was awarded a free kick from 25 yards out and took a direct shot at the goal. Elizabethton keeper Reazyn DeMoss made an excellent save on the ball, though, and the game went to overtime.
The Lady Devils controlled possession much of the first overtime period, but with 4:25 on the clock Adams tallied her second goal of the night when she got a shot off from the left side of the goal.
Three minutes later, Hardin sent in a long shot that deflected off the right post and went in.
Greeneville had several scoring opportunities in the extra tie. Lynae Wilder had a shot that sailed just over the crossbar. A few seconds later, Madison Grubbs deflected one off the bar.