A bruised and battered Cleveland Lady Raider squad took the pitch Thursday afternoon against Signal Mountain to open the fourth annual Cleveland Classic Soccer Tournament at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex.
“I was bragging yesterday about how the injury bug hadn’t hit us yet, and lo and behold today I discover that we are a little beat up and have some dents and dings in a few key positions,” Cleveland head coach Andy Byrd said with a chuckle after the match.
“This is soccer. It’s a game meant to be played when you’re hurting a little, not when you’re injured, but just a little banged up. That’s one of the character development aspects of the sport. You’re going to wake up with aches and pains and not want to go to work, but you have to do it anyway.”
Go to work is exactly what the Lady Raider did, playing their way to a 1-1 draw with Signal Mountain to open the 2012 Cleveland Classic chronicle.
Despite having only 13 girls on the team, the Lady Eagles showed their athletic talent by challenging Cleveland for possession, and peppering the home goal with numerous shot attempts throughout the match.
Cleveland’s keeper, sophomore Jenna Scoggins, was put to the test early and often. In the seventh minute of play she had to make the first of many impressive saves when a well-struck ball forced her to perform a diving stop to keep things scoreless.
Lorne “The Artillery Cannon” Conn launched a precision strike in the 13th minute off a free kick opportunity from 35 yards out. The ball rocketed from foot to goal and then onto the scoreboard, giving Cleveland the early 1-nil lead.
With the sheer quanity of Signal Mountain offensive pushes it was only a matter of time until a ball crossed to goal line and drew the visiting squad equal.
Such a volley came in the 26th minute of play. Lady Eagles lined the Cleveland box when a shot was lofted from the top of the penalty area and drifted just inches from a leaping Scoggins’ hand to level the score at 1-all.
From that point on, both sides battled for possession in the midfield for a vast majority of the remaining 50 minutes of play.
The action heated up in the final 10 minutes of play. Scoggins was forced to make two more very athletic saves. On the attacking side of the ball Samantha DeBien crossed in a good ball that found Sohara Perez Gomez, but Signal’s defense was too quick to the ball.
Betsie Hobbs and Conn both put attempts on goal in the closing minutes, but neither found its mark. The clock expired on the 1-1 draw.
“Both teams had opportunities. I think we came up a little short in the attack today, but at the same time good teams do what it takes to win and sometimes are forced to do what it takes to tie,” Byrd said.
“This takes us to four ties on the season. Ties are totally acceptable worldwide. We live to play another day,” he said with a smile.
That particular “another day” will take place today as the Lady Raiders (3-2-4) take the pitch at 4:30 to face off against a 4-2-2 Oakland High School squad.