OOLTEWAH — Coming off of a rough week, Cleveland was able to trek down to Ooltewah and get its third District 5-AAA win.
“It’s always good to come to Ooltewah. Tonight was their Cancer Awareness Night, and that hit our team hard. Our hats go off to those moms who are battling this day in and day out, this night was for them,” head coach Andy Byrd said. “I don’t want to say that we hit a low point last week, but we did. You’ve got to find ways to climb out of the slump and out of tough situations. It was a good night for Cleveland soccer to get things back on track.”
By the time the final minutes had run off the clock, the Lady Raiders had a strong 4-1 finish over the Lady Owls.
This win came just one day after Cleveland had been stripped of its penalty kick victory over McMinn County.
“About the standings and all the regular season controversy — none of this matters until the postseason. Our eyes are still on the prize and remain focused on our team goals,” Byrd commented.
McKenzie Harris, who racked up a total of three goals against the Lady Owls, got the scoring started just four minutes into the match with the assist coming from Sohara Perez.
Just one minute later, Deja Scott would answer back for Ooltewah.
“Coach (Rick) Adolph puts together an organized team, but they are kind of beat up and dealing with some injuries,” Byrd stated.
The game remained tied going into the half.
The tied game only lasted the first minute and a half of the second 40 minutes of play, as Hope Haas, assisted by Sam DeBien, got another one past the Ooltewah keeper.
Harris got her next two goals in the final 30 minutes, one of those coming from a penalty kick.
“Kenzie Harris got a hat trick for us tonight and led us offensively. Players were coming off the bench and playing well — Taylor Lopez and Tanya Anchondo came out and gave us some good energy. Ashley Valencia, who was in her second high school start, came in and gave us some good, quality minutes. Lorne Conn was another one who was peppering the crossbar,” Byrd said. “We had great effort tonight from Sam DeBien. She got on the assist sheet but wasn’t able to hit any goals. We peppered the crossbar tonight and had some fantastic play coming from our backs. Kendall Hamilton and Calli Baker got involved tonight, and Sarah Crump has battled back from her injury.”
The Lady Raiders will finish out the week in tournament play down at Chattanooga Christian School on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Cleveland plays Boyd-Buchanan Thursday at 5, Tennessee High Friday at 7 and Shelbyville Central Saturday morning at 11.
“Iron is going to sharpen iron, and we’re going to go down to CCS and play some good teams in their tournament,” Byrd declared.
MCMINN COUNTY 3,
WALKER VALLEY 0
Although the Lady Mustangs were unable to get the win Tuesday evening as they hosted the Lady Cherokees, their efforts on the pitch served as proof of their hard work in this transition season.
It took the still-undefeated District 5-AAA McMinn team almost a full 30 minutes before they were able to get their first goal of the evening.
“Everything was going right in the first half. We really did well implementing all the things we’ve been working on, so when we started to play our game it was phenomenal to see. We know that we’re improving and getting better so I’m still proud,” Walker Valley coach Nathan Brown said. “We did make one defensive error and that’s how McMinn scored in the first half.”
In the second half, the Lady Cherokees were able to add two more goals while continuing to hold the Lady Mustangs scoreless.
“We kept on pounding in the second half, but I think we just got tired. Again, a defensive error gave them a chance to score. Once McMinn got that second goal, I felt like that was when it went kind of overboard. Our girls never really stopped fighting though,” Brown commented.
One thing Brown has been working on with his team is their lack of aggressive play, which he felt was improved on during Tuesday’s game.
“No doubt about it they played more aggressively. The physicality was led by Allyson Flock and Isabel Swafford, and that’s what we have to carry to every single game,” Brown explained. “We were playing the ball around and knocking it back and forth, possessing the ball and had a couple of shots as well. Every single player came to play in the first half.”
Walker Valley will travel to Hixson Thursday before continuing their district play at Bradley Central next Tuesday.
“If we can beat Hixson that would take us to six wins for the season. We only won two games last year,” Brown said.
LADY RAIDERS 4, LADY OWLS 1
Halftime score: 1-1. Goals: McKenzie Harris 3, Hope Haas (C) Deja Scott (O). Assists: Sohara Perez, Sam DeBien (C). Record: Cleveland 6-5, 3-2 District 5-AAA; Ooltewah 4-7, 0-4 District 5-AAA.
LADY CHEROKEES 3, LADY MUSTANGS 0
Halftime score: 1-0. Goals: Hailey Thompson, BreAnna Gable, Shelby Wilson (MC) Assists: Carson Ford (MC) Record: McMinn 8-1-2, 5-0 District 5-AAA; Walker Valley 5-5, 1-3 District 5-AAA.