By the end of 80 minutes, the East Hamilton Hurricanes were able to come away with a 2-1 victory, effectively ending the Raiders’ season.
In the regular season, East Hamilton was the only team to defeat Cleveland in district play in what head coach John Brose referred to as his team’s worst match of the season.
While Tuesday was a vast improvement from the regular season matchup, the Raiders were still unable to put together a winning combination on the pitch.
“I’m definitely proud of my guys. It wasn’t a lack of effort, but it wasn’t the best game that we’ve played, by any means. I wish we would’ve played better overall,” Brose stated. “East Hamilton is a good soccer team, and it just wasn’t our night.”
After going through the entire first half scoreless on both sides, East Hamilton’s Jack Fletcher was able to get one in the back of the net about six minutes into the second half.
“We couldn’t get Anfernee (Avila) and Moss (Jones) going like we had hoped, so give East Hamilton credit, they made it difficult,” Brose commented. “It was just one of those games, and unfortunately the ball didn’t bounce our way.”
Thirteen minutes later, Avila was able to get something going and tied things up.
“We did well to battle back and got the equalizer,” Brose added.
East Hamilton’s second goal came near the 70th minute, off a penalty kick by Cooper Loftin.
The Raiders were unable to find another equalizing goal in those last 10 minutes, and the PK goal proved to be enough to bring their postseason run to a screeching halt.
“I hate to lose on a PK,” Brose said. “We’ve got a lot of character in that group, and I’m very proud about the season that we’ve had. It’s always sad at the end of the year saying goodbye to your seniors, and I wish we could’ve gone farther.”
The two teams were evenly matched with six shots on goal apiece.
East Hamilton will face Ooltewah on Thursday for the District 5-AAA championship, with both teams in the final advancing to the regional tournament.
HURRICANES 2, BLUE RAIDERS 1
Halftime score: 0-0. Goals: Anfernee Avila (C); Jack Fletcher, Cooper Loftin (EH). Assists: Cameron Takrouri (EH). Record: Cleveland 11-4-2; East Hamilton 7-7-2.