“It’s been great, and not just because we played really well. Overall it’s just been a great weekend. The weather’s been great, we had some good games and good competition. For us personally, to top it off there with a win there at the end was definitely good,” head coach John Brose stated.
Despite dropping their first game to Dalton on Thursday, Cleveland was able to turn things around and defeat Coffee County 3-1 on Friday and Knox West by 2-1 on Saturday night.
The Raider versus Raider matchup started off on a sour note for Cleveland, with Coffee County nailing a penalty kick in the first two minutes of the game.
“We started off really slowly. We definitely came out flat, giving them a foul in the box in the first two minutes in the game that put us behind 1-0. When we made some subs about 10 minutes in they brought a lot of life,” Brose said.
Twenty minutes into play Anfernee Avila was able to even up the score with an unassisted goal stemming from a clearance by Will Haas.
Avila kicked another one past the Coffee County goaltender not even five minutes later, giving the Raiders a one point lead.
“Anfernee Avila up front was just phenomenal for us up front,” Brose commented. “His second goal is goal of the season so far, I know the season is early but, he was able to control it nicely in the box, flick it over the defender’s head and then volley it home, it was beautiful that’s for sure.”
Sophomore Brandon Romero increased Cleveland’s lead five minutes before halftime, with the assist coming from Jesse Jones.
“We got the ball into the box and Jesse Jones did a really good job of holding the ball up, waiting for those runners to come. He laid it off and Brandon had a great shot for that third one,” Brose said.
The second half was scoreless, with both teams battling on overdrive.
“In the second half I just don’t know how we didn’t score another one to be honest with you. We put all sorts of pressure on them and that’s what we talked about at half time is trying to put them away early,” Brose remarked. “We had some good opportunities, hit the post a few times and had some other good shots from distance and just couldn’t seem to stick one in there.”
RAIDERS 2, REBELS 1
While Walker Valley lost to Knox West on Saturday afternoon, the Raiders managed to be the victors in their matchup that evening.
“Knox West is a quality soccer program. They’re a very strong team. I was real proud of our guys and the way we came out,” coach Brose commented. “Once again, I think our depth helped us quite a bit because we were able to sub a lot and keep fresh legs in there after a long weekend,”
The back-to-back-to-back games proved a non-issue for the Raiders, who looked alert throughout the entire 80 minutes.
“Throughout the weekend I think we got better every single game. With an early tournament like this that’s what you’re really looking for. I think we learned a lot about ourselves against a good Dalton team on Thursday night,” Brose said. “We were able to get a good win against Coffee County last night, and then topped it off against a really good team in Knox West. We’re building and we’re getting there. This will only make us better in the long run.”
Jones, assisted by freshman Jonathan Collins, got Cleveland on the board first nine minutes into the game.
The second goal by Jones followed six minutes later, assisted by Romero.
“We put a lot of pressure on them early on. Jesse Jones did a great job capitalizing on a couple of opportunities in the box and was just able to toe poke a couple home for us in the first half,” Brose said.
Cleveland was able to hold Knox West scoreless going into halftime.
The Raiders came up big defensively in the second half, and it seemed that a shutout was fast approaching.
“Defensively at the end we came up with big stops, a lot of good clearances. Zach Martin played real well in the goal for us in the second half,” Brose stated.
The Rebels were able to sneak one past goaltender Zach Martin, snaring their lone goal in the last five minutes of the game.
“I’m real proud of them and excited. Hopefully we can use this as a springboard to get some good wins this coming week before we hit spring break next week,” Brose said after the game.
During the match the Raiders got nine shots on goal, while the Rebels had eight.
Cleveland will lose their home advantage this next week, playing at Cookeville Tuesday night and then playing at Boyd-Buchanan on Thursday.
COFFEE COUNTY 1
Halftime score: 3-1
Goals: Cleveland: Anfernee Avila (2), Brandon Romero
Assists: Jesse Jones
KNOX WEST 1
Halftime score: 2-0
Goals: Cleveland: Jesse Jones (2)
Assists: Jonathan Collins, Brandon Romero
Shots on Goal: Cleveland: 9; Knox West: 8
Record: Cleveland 3-1