“My head’s not down, we played a good game but ultimately came up short. Sometimes that’s the game of life as well, though,” Cleveland coach Andy Byrd commented. “Overall I think we played great, it just ended up being 1-nil in the end.”
In their previous meeting at the beginning of the season, Cookeville (16-3-2) was able to come away with a one goal, 4-3 win.
This time around, both teams were held scoreless for the vast majority of the Region 3-AAA semifinal game.
It took until the 56th minute of play before the lone, go-ahead goal for the Lady Cavaliers was scored by Paige Beaulieu.
“It was an incredible finish, she (Beaulieu) had two yards to finish and slid it exactly where it needed to go. It was a percentage shot that was pretty low and she took it and it went. Hats off to her on scoring a great goal to advance them,” Byrd said.
While the Cookeville goal was a direct result of what many considered a controversial call, coach Byrd felt that the final score was not a true reflection of the game that was played on the pitch.
“Tonight we gave them a battle and the scoreboard didn’t reflect how things really were,” Byrd stated. “Unfortunately we’re done now, but we still got better tonight.”
While the outcome of the game was not what they were hoping for, the Lady Raiders’ efforts on the field were still solid.
“Jenna had a great game and defensively we were solid, minus a few lapses,” Byrd said. “We’ve still got some young bucks back there filling in, and I really feel that once we get things going next year that we’ll be good to go.”
Cleveland was led this season by sophomore Sam DeBien, who had 20 goals and 12 assists. Senior McKenzie Harris tallied 16 goals and seven assists, while junior Sohara Perez had eight goals and six assists.
The Lady Raiders end their season with an overall record of 12-9-1 and were 4-2 in District 5-AAA play.
For Byrd, one of the worst aspects of the final loss of the 2013 campaign was the disappointment it caused his senior players and their families.
“At the end of the night you look at what these seniors have done for this team; they’ve just set such a high precedent,” Byrd commented.
After the game, Harris had some words of encouragement for the younger Lady Raiders.
“If you look at where we started compared to where we are now, we’re so much better,” Harris told the upset players.