The Cleveland Blue Raiders had been in the same situation more than once in the last two weeks. Down a goal in the second half, the Raiders seemed to magically produce a winning goal as the second …
The Cleveland Blue Raiders had been in the same situation more than once in the last two weeks. Down a goal in the second half, the Raiders seemed to magically produce a winning goal as the second ticked off the clock.
But, there were no more rabbits in the hat Saturday against Oakland in the TSSAA Sectional Match at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex.
The Patriots (12-5-3) scored an early first-half goal and protected the lead successfully in the second half to earn a spot in next week’s state tournament with a 1-0 win over the Raiders.
“I didn’t think one goal was going to be enough either,” said an emotional Blue Raider coach John Brose. “We fought hard. We really thought we would get one in the second half.
“We put the ball in dangerous spots throughout the half. The ball fell to us a couple of times just right, we just didn’t have the finishing touch tonight.”
The Patriots scored just nine minutes into the match on a shot that snuck by Cleveland goalie Will Woodruff who was behind a crowd.
“It was a good shot by their kid,” Brose said. “Woodruff couldn’t see because of a lot of guys in front of him. I knew the outside backs were going to get forward in their attack and they untimely got a goal off of it.”
As they have in the last two weeks — and with success — the Raiders (12-9-1) picked up the pace in the final 40 minutes and had chances, but could not find the back of the net.
The Patriots were content to protect the lead and play defense for most of the second half.
“They sat in and defended well. Their keeper made some good saves,” said Brose. “I really thought if we could maybe get one early in the second half it would have given us the momentum and I thought a second would have come. But, we just couldn’t get that first one.”
A header by the Raiders with 14 minutes left just missed, floating over the crossbar. Cleveland came close one more time with 4:48 left when a free kick by Casey Beck rolled just outside the left upright.
It would be the last shot on goal for the Raiders.
Woodruff kept it a 1-0 game with just over two minutes on the clock with yet another brilliant save. But, the Patriots managed to run out the clock to save the victory.
“We played well. We had to leave it all on the field. There was going to be no tomorrow without today. We went out in the second half and left it all out there,” Brose said of his team.
“It’s been an absolute magical journey these last two weeks. This is a special group.
“The adversity they faced early in the season and the way they responded to it helped really turn things around,” he said.
“It was a commendable performance by Oakland. I couldn’t be happier to be the coach of this team and for what we’ve done.”
Brose said he is proud of the way the Blue Raiders turned the season around after a rough start and will look forward to another successful run in 2020.
“Anytime you lose and your season is over it’s hard. These seniors are a great group. I couldn’t be happier for what they have done academically and athletically.
“As part of our soccer program over the last four years, it’s a group we are going to miss a lot for sure,” he said of his departing seniors.
“For the rest of the guys coming back, and there are a lot of them, we’ve just got to take this, embrace it for what it was. It was an awesome journey. Hopefully, we will be right back here next year.”
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