The Cleveland soccer team had more “Hope” than it needed in Saturday’s Cleveland Classic match with Alcoa.
Hope Haas scored two goals in the second half as the Lady Raiders defeated the Lady Tornadoes 3-0, clinching a winning record in three Classic matches. Cleveland shut down East Ridge Thursday night, 5-1, but dropped a 3-0 decision to highly-ranked Farragut Friday afternoon.
Farragut (9-0) is Tennessee’s fifth-ranked high school team. There was a second top-10 team in this year’s Classic. Soddy-Daisy (10-0) is ranked No. 4.
Cleveland Coach Andy Byrd was pleased with the play of his Lady Raiders, especially in the second half as they leveled their season record at 4-4-1. Byrd, an Alcoa High School graduate, said his team is still progressing.
“We have eight freshmen, who are continuing to grow and improve, and we have great leadership among our seniors,” he said. “We started out slow today, but settled down in the second half.”
Cleveland’s offense had 18 shots on goal, holding the Lady Tornadoes without a shot.
The Lady Raiders took the lead with 12 minutes remaining in the first 40-minute period. Kaitlyn Poulakis worked her way to the right side of Alcoa’s defense to send the go-ahead goal into the net.
Haas pretty much put the victory away for Cleveland in the second period. She moved the ball in front of the goal and sent her shot underneath the reaching hands of the Alcoa goalie with 18:08 remaining in the match. She came right back with 12:40 left on a break-away from midfield for her second score.
Coach Byrd said his girls played well against Farragut Friday, but could not get the ball in the net. “They pretty much shut our offense down,” he said. “They’re a high-quality team with good experience. I can’t say our girls didn’t respond, but we’re young and we’re still learning.”
“We didn’t take a step backwards with the loss,” Byrd added. “You have to play the best to be able to beat the best. We play seven of the top 10 teams in the state in our 18 matches this season ... and we continue to get better.”
“Farragut and Bearden will be of the better teams coming out of that region (in the state playoffs),” Byrd added.
Classic scores through Saturday’s early match include:
Thursday — Cleveland 5, East Ridge 1; Farragut 6, Silverdale 0. Friday — Farragut 3, Cleveland 0; East Ridge 3, Grace 1; Soddy-Daisy 4, Alcoa 1; Silverdale 3, Ooltewah 2.
Other games Saturday had Soddy-Daisy playing East Ridge, Ooltewah facing Grace, Silverdale playing Soddy-Daisy, Grace against Alcoa and Farragut taking on Ooltewah.
n The Cleveland Lady Raiders face two serious challengers this week. Coach Byrd’s team will travel to Walker Valley to play the Lady Mustangs Tuesday afternoon, and then journey to the Soddy-Daisy Soccer Complex Thursday to take on the fourth-ranked Lady Trojans.