In their previous game on Friday, the Indians took on the 2013 Georgia State Champion Dalton Catamounts and finished with a 2-2 tie.
The Raiders were able to rise to the occasion and put together what head coach John Brose referred to as their best 80 minutes of play yet to finish with a 1-1 tie with the Indians.
“It was back and forth the entire time with lots of chances for them and lots of chances for us. It was a wide-open game, that’s for sure,” Brose declared. “Both teams played their hearts out and had a chance to win it. You know what, maybe this one should have ended in a tie like it did.”
Cleveland came out with a strong presence right away in the first half, despite being at the end of a long 3-day tournament.
“We came out and were on fire in the first half, possessing all over the place. We were able to slide Anfernee [Avila] in, and I can’t believe he didn’t score a couple of goals there in the first half with a some of the chances that he had, but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” Brose described.
Though it is still early in the Raiders’ season, the big question mark, according to Coach Brose, has been on the back end.
Saturday night that question mark became null and void.
“We’ve had some problems with basic stuff like clearances and diving in on the back, but tonight we were very disciplined in the back. Will Haas and Marvin Ruiz, our two center backs, played very well together and had help from Reed Calfee,” Brose commented.
Cleveland was able to get on the board in the 34th minute thanks to the efforts of midfielder Eric Arango.
The Raiders held onto their 1-0 lead until a surging Dobyns-Bennett team finally snuck one past the Cleveland keeper with just 15 minutes left in the match.
“Dobyns-Bennett is a quality team, and we had them on the ropes there and were up a goal until the last 15 minutes,” Brose stated. “Once we gave up the goal, I thought we responded very well. Zach Martin came up huge for us in goal, especially in that second half.”
Both teams fought tooth and nail to break the tie in the remaining minutes of the match, but neither keeper missed another shot.
The Raiders outshot the Indians 11-9, and Martin blocked five of the six shots that were on frame.
Cleveland finished their tournament with a 2-0-1 record.
Coach Brose hopes that his team’s performance in the Classic will lead to even more momentum in the coming weeks.
“It’s starting to click, and hopefully we can use this to build up more momentum in the next few weeks before district play begins,” Brose said.
RED RAIDERS 2,
Following a 2-0 loss to Sullivan South, Walker Valley came into Saturday afternoon’s game hoping to turn things around on their home field.
Unfortunately for the young Mustang team, Coffee County was able to hand them another 2-nil loss.
“We lost, but a few years ago that score would’ve been a lot more lopsided,” Walker Valley coach Tom Bayliss commented. “We had our chances, like last night we could’ve put five in, and we could’ve put five in this afternoon. It’s not like we aren’t getting chances; we just have to finish.”
About halfway through the first, Coffee County’s Cody Howes found the back of the net.
The Mustangs trailed 1-0 at the half, but it was the Red Raiders who struck again in the second half, with a goal by Pedro Hernandez and assisted by Abelen Barrera.
A positive note for Walker Valley comes from freshman goalkeeper Skyler Swafford, who made 14 saves against the Red Raiders and 10 against Sullivan South on Friday.
“Skyler is doing great for us in goal,” Bayliss said.
The Mustangs registered six shots on goal Saturday afternoon but were once again stonewalled by the opposing team’s keeper.
“We’ve been talking a lot about discipline and playing our game; last night we only played our game about 20 minutes out of the 80,” Bayliss stated. “Today it took us a while to get to our game, but once we got there we had chance after chance.”
Walker Valley’s team is comprised of mostly underclassmen, but that hasn’t deterred Coach Bayliss.
“It’s a young team with only a few upperclassmen, but we’re not willing to settle for a couple years from now. We want to do it now,” Bayliss declared. “We’ve got to stay disciplined, stick to our game plan and be patient.”
The last time Cleveland and Coffee County met up on the pitch, it was the Red Raiders who ended the Blue Raiders’ postseason run by a score of 2-0.
Things went very differently on a gusty Friday night as the two teams met up once again, but with Cleveland coming away with a 5-1 victory.
“It’s always good to once again get a win under your belt. We came out sluggish, and you could definitely tell we were tired in the first 15-20 minutes, and they did a good job of putting a lot of pressure on us. They got the first goal of the game and made the night interesting,” Brose stated.
Coffee County’s Breyer Taylor was able to find the back of the net just six minutes into the match, but it would turn out to be the Red Raiders’ lone goal of the night.
The Blue Raiders were able to tie things up in the 31st minute, off a corner kick by Brandon Romero.
Noah Todd found the back of the net for another Cleveland goal just a handful of seconds before halftime.
“We were able to gain the momentum back at the end of the first half though, got a goal back and then got one right before the halftime whistle,” Brose said.
With the momentum turning in Cleveland’s favor, Romero was able to get his second goal of the game in the 62nd minute, giving “Blue” a 3-1 lead over “Red.”
In the final 10 minutes of the match Cleveland added two more to the scoreboard, coming from a penalty kick by Marvin Ruiz and moments later goal from Yvan Tawembe.
“Even though we didn’t put them away as quickly as I would’ve liked, it came eventually,” Brose commented. “We subbed in a lot of guys, everyone played well off the bench and those fresh legs really helped us in those last 20 minutes.”
The Blue Raiders registered 14 shots on goal Friday night, while Coffee County only managed to get two.
REBELS 2, MUSTANGS 0
Immediately following the Raider versus Raider match, Walker Valley got their turn on the pitch against a tough Sullivan South team.
During the 80 minutes of play, the Rebels were able to notch two goals and hold the Mustangs scoreless.
Goalkeeper Skyler Swafford did his best to keep Walker Valley in the game, blocking 10 of Sullivan South’s shots.
The Mustangs had seven shots of their own which were stonewalled by the Rebel’s keeper.
(Walker Valley played against Blackman in the final game of the Cleveland Classic Saturday night. See story in Monday’s edition.)
BLUE RAIDERS 5, RED RAIDERS 1
Halftime score: 2-1. Goals: Brandon Romero 2, Noah Todd, Marvin Ruiz, Yvan Tawembe (CHS); Breyer Taylor (CC)
RED RAIDERS 2, MUSTANGS 0
Halftime score: 1-0. Goals: Cody Howes, Pedro Hernandez (CC) Assists: Abelen Barrera Record: Walker Valley 1-2.
RAIDERS 1, INDIANS 1
Halftime score: 1-0. Goals: Eric Arango (CHS) Record: Cleveland 2-1-1.