When the flashes in the distance became visible forks of lightning the officials decided they had seen enough and called the game at the eight-minute point of the second half, with Baylor up on the Raiders 3-0.
“Baylor is a really good team. A lot of credit needs to go their way, but I didn’t think we played up to our potential. They possessed the ball very well. When we got it, we were very quick to give it right back to them,” said Cleveland head coach John Brose.
It was an ominous start to the game for Cleveland when the Red Raiders quick forwards penetrated through the midfield defense and put a shot on goal within the first two minutes.
On the other side of the ball, Baylor’s defense was potent, forming a wall in the backfield that Cleveland’s forwards could not find the answer to.
Play came to a head in the 13th minute when the Red Raiders cruised down the sideline before launching a cross that drifted into the back of the Blue Raider net.
Cleveland didn’t have any time to regroup. Less than a minute later Baylor shot a rocket toward the goal that narrowly missed, and two minutes after that a shot deflected off the crossbar and bounced just outside the home goal.
“We lost our shape a little bit defensively, especially in the midfield when we were having a hard time picking up guys. Overall, we need to do a better job of possessing the ball when we get it,” Brose explained.
In the 18th minute Baylor made it 2-nil with another impressive display of ball movement and control.
During the final 10 minutes of play the visiting team peppered the Raider goal with three more shots that were well defended, keeping the lead to two goals as the half expired.
It was right back at it in the second half when Baylor aced a penalty kick within the first five minutes of play to bring it to 3-0. Two minutes later the sky was alive with the coming storm.
When the lightning decided not to let up, the officials put an end to the game, giving Baylor a 3-nil win over Cleveland to kick off the Classic.
“We love this weekend every year because we bring in these great teams to play. This is a great learning experience. The season is a journey and playing good teams like this helps you find what you need to work on to be successful down the road,” Brose stated.
Cleveland will be back in action tonight at the soccer complex when it welcomes Coffee County in for a 4:30 p.m. match. The Raiders will round out their tournament with a 5:30 p.m. match Saturday against White Station.