Saturday marked the final day of the fifth annual Cleveland Classic, and the past three days of tournament play have been hailed as a success by hosting coach Andy Byrd.
“It’s been a great tournament and that all starts with the weather. You bring in seven teams from around the state and get to show them what we have here,” Byrd commented. “This tournament wouldn’t be such a success if it wasn’t for the community of Cleveland. We’ve got everyone involved, from parents, teachers, the city of Cleveland and Greater Cleveland soccer.”
Over the course of three days, Cleveland went toe-to-toe with some challenging competition, and ultimately went 1-2.
“The best part of this tournament is that you get to see different styles of soccer from different parts of the state. As you do that, you get to figure out your own style as well,” Byrd stated.
On Friday the Lady Raiders were bested by the Oakland Lady Patriots 4-1, and followed it up with a tough 3-1 loss to the Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett Lady Indians on Saturday morning.
With the Classic behind them, the Lady Raiders will turn their focus to district play when they host McMinn Central Tuesday evening at 7.
Cleveland’s matchup against Dobyns-Bennett was a physically grueling one, as they were coming up on their fourth game in five days.
“When you have so many games in a row you come out to your third game of the tournament and your legs are tired,” Byrd said. “If your legs are tired then you’re kicking where you don’t mean to — We were tired and kicking them, they were tired and kicking us.”
According to Coach Byrd, Saturday’s game was similar to Friday’s loss.
“Yesterday (Friday) was similar to today (Saturday) based on the fact that we were chasing a bit. When you begin to chase, its hard to get out of that habit within the game. If you don’t let the ball do the work for you, then you’re going to end up in a precarious spot,” Byrd explained.
While the Tribe was able to gain early control over the ball, the efforts of Cleveland’s defense and goalkeeper Jenna Scoggins held Dobyns-Bennett scoreless for the first 15 minutes of the game.
The Indians goal was answered by the Lady Raiders lone goal nearly 10 minutes later, as Sam DeBien, who was assisted by McKenzie Harris, was able to get her shot past the Lady Indians keeper.
The 1-1 tie was ended with seven minutes left in the first half, following a Dobyns-Bennett penalty kick.
Cleveland was unable to come back in the second half with an answer for the Tribe’s offense as they scored their third and final goal just seven minutes into the second.
The Lady Raiders attempted to get their offense moving, but were allowed no other goals by the Dobyns-Bennett goalkeeper despite some impressive tries.
“I feel like we were a bit fresher toward the end of the game than they were,” Byrd commented. “I think we played a bit better today than we did Friday, simply because we had more energy. I thought we could have gotten another goal toward the end of each half but it just didn’t pan out that way.”
Cleveland had a slight wrench thrown in their lineup, as various injuries and sickness have pushed them to the thin side.
“We need to be about 15 deep, and right now we’re just not there. We’re dealing with an injury and some sickness, so that takes away from us,” Byrd stated. “It’s your own tournament so you want to be the best you can but at the same time you have to see the big picture and look down the road at the playoffs.”
OAKLAND 3, CLEVELAND 1
Cleveland fell to the Oakland 4-1 in a hard fought match Friday evening in their second contest in the three-day classic.
The Lady Raiders could not sustain enough attacks against a fast and talented Oakland team that was able to sneak goals past Cleveland’s defense and goalkeeper.
“They have great speed on the Oakland team and were able to wear us down. They knocked our feet out from underneath us when it came to their ball movement and passing,” Cleveland head coach Andy Byrd said.
Cleveland was able to hold Oakland to only one goal in the first half, but could not put together sustained scoring attacks themselves.
“We had some instances where we put things together but our scoring attempts came up short. We had attempts at creativity but could not capitalize when the opportunity presented itself,” Byrd said.
In the second half, the Lady Patriots wasted little time and got on the board only four minutes into the half.
Oakland responded again five minutes later, putting in another goal to make the score 3-0.
“They were able to attack us on the backpost and we couldn’t stop it. But with that being said, our goalkeeper Jenna Scoggins played a great game. There was little she could do against Oakland’s backpost, the score could have been worse if she didn’t play as good as she did,” Byrd said.
The Lady Raiders would finally get on the board with a goal of their own at the 30-minute mark, as Calli Baker was able to score of a corner kick assist coming from Lorne Conn.
Oakland put in their last goal with 20 minutes left, making the score 4 – 1, which is where it stayed for the remainder of the game.
“I saw a lot of positives and things from tonight that we can build on for our upcoming matches. Luckily I have good team leaders who help the team, and help me, see the bigger picture that we still have an entire season ahead of us to continually get better and better,” Byrd said.
LADY PATRIOTS 4, LADY RAIDERS 1
Halftime score: 1- 0. Goals: Calli Baker. Assists: Lorne Conn.
LADY INDIANS 3, LADY RAIDERS 1
Halftime score: 2-1. Goals: Sam DeBien. Assists: McKenzie Harris. Record: Cleveland 4-3, 1-0.