“Don’t weather the storm, bring one,” exclaimed Cleveland High School head coach Andy Byrd from the sideline as his Lady Raiders battled to the bitter end against one of their greatest rivals, the Soddy-Daisy Lady Trojans (11-2-2, 5-0-0).
For 80 minutes a soccer version of chess took place at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex. Both teams played the match short-handed, so creativity and drive were going to be the ultimate deciding factors.
Regulation ended with both teams scoreless. So, for the third time this season the Lady Raider were forced into the new golden goal period.
In the final minute of the first extra period the storm became too much to weather as Soddy-Daisy’s Megan Weller caught fire, shooting from the top corner of the penalty area into the back corner of the Cleveland net. The clincher came after a full 89 minutes of deadlocked battle, giving the Lady Trojans the 1-nil victory.
“We all worked really hard out there tonight,” said Cleveland freshman forward Samantha DeBien after the match.
“If we see them again we are just going to go after it again as hard as we can and give it our best.”
It was a sentiment echoed by her coach.
“I can’t wait to play them in the District 5-AAA championship if we can get through McMinn County. We played them tight in the preseason. It only takes one goal. They got it this time, but we put together a number of quality chances,” expressed Byrd.
There certainly was no shortage of chances for the home squad throughout the match, splitting possession with the defending district champions almost an even 50-50.
While the Lady Trojans put more shots on goal many, of Cleveland’s attempts were better struck and on target, but inspired play from both keepers kept things scoreless.
The Lady Raiders held Soddy to just three shots on goal in the entire first half of play, but as the game wore on the Lady Trojans started to find more opportunities.
In the extra period it was all visitors. Cleveland was unable to muster a single shot on frame in the golden goal period, while the visitors picked up the tempo. In the final 10 minutes, Soddy put four shots on goal, including the clincher.
One positive to come out of the match for the Lady Raiders was the return of junior striker Hope Hass, who had missed the past two weeks with injury.
“Hope played great. Sam (DeBien) and Sohara (Perez) put in some great minutes. Alex (Hutt) in the backfield played fantastic, and Jenna (Scoggins) played a great game in goal,” Byrd said.
Soddy-Daisy can clinch the regular season district title Tuesday with a win over Ooltewah.
Next up for Cleveland will be a vital match against McMinn County that will help resolve the log jam in the district standings directly below the Lady Trojans (Ooltewah 3-1, McMinn County 3-1, Cleveland 3-2).
Both of the Lady Raiders district losses have come at the hands of the golden goal.