Blue Raiders win Classic opener

By BRYAN GRISHAM
Posted 3/22/19

The Cleveland Blue Raiders soccer team kicked off its 2019 season in a big way on Thursday night at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex, with a 2-0 win over the Maryville Rebels in the opening round …

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Blue Raiders win Classic opener

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The Cleveland Blue Raiders soccer team kicked off its 2019 season in a big way on Thursday night at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex, with a 2-0 win over the Maryville Rebels in the opening round of the Cleveland Classic Soccer Tournament.

Both teams had to not only battle each other, but also a 20-25 mph head wind all night long as the temperatures plummeted steadily.

“The wind was definitely a factor tonight,” explained Cleveland coach John Brose. “We had it in our face in the first half and it affected us, especially on offense. We couldn’t really get any kind of rhythm going and we had trouble in possession.”

The Blue Raiders did manage to mount one successful charge in the first half as Landan Fella had a sparkling assist over the top of the defense to Elvin Palacios who promptly nailed a shot into the back of the net to give Cleveland the early 1-0 lead.

“We had a couple more opportunities in the first half, but their goalkeeper did a good job of denying us, but we were happy to be in front at the half considering the windy conditions” the coach said.

Cleveland went back to work in the second half as Justin Franco found a way to put the ball into the goal with a header off of a perfectly placed corner kick from teammate Casey Beck. The Maryville goalkeeper actually got a hand on the ball for an apparent save, but couldn’t quite complete it as the ball bounced off him and rolled across the line for the goal and a 2-0 Blue Raiders lead.

That would be more than enough scoring for the home team as Cleveland goalkeeper Will Woodruff turned away every Rebel advance in the match to post the shutout and help his team secure the win.

“Will did a good job for us in goal tonight,” said Brose. “Our defense played well all night long and helped him out. He didn’t face a ton of shots, but the ones he needed to, he stopped them.”

Center Kevin Gomez was just one of the Cleveland defenders that led the way defensively as they completed the match and the shutout.

“We were more at ease in the second half with the wind at our backs,” said the coach. “We controlled the ball better and rode it out to get the win over a good team. Overall we played well tonight.”

In other action, Loudon kicked Notre Dame early and often as they took an impressive 8-2 win while Walker Valley came up on the short end of a 5-2 decision to Cookeville.

Soccer action will continue on today and wrap up with a full slate Saturday.

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