Cleveland’s Lady Raiders may face their toughest test of this year’s Cleveland Soccer Classic today when they go up against the Lady Admirals of Farragut.
The two teams, considered among the class of this year’s Classic field, collide at 4:30 p.m. at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex on Mouse Creek Road. Both are 2-0 in Classic play after Thursday victories.
Coach Andy Byrd’s Lady Raiders were dominating Thursday, especially in the second half, as they whipped the Lady Pioneers of East Ridge, 5-1. Farragut dumped Chattanooga Silverdale in a follow-up match.
Cleveland had 18 shots on goal to only three for East Ridge. The Lady Raiders leveled their season at 3-3-1 going into today’s match with Farragut. Cleveland also had four corner kicks, while the Lady Pioneers never made it to the corner.
Coach Byrd praised his girls for their play in the second half. “We asked them to go out and get three quick goals (to start the second half), and they did that,” he said. “It was a great team effort and a good win.”
Byrd also paid tribute to the East Ridge program. “They’ve been down for a few years, but they’re building the program back,” he said. “It was good to have them out here for the Classic.”
The Cleveland coach urged his Lady Raiders to go home and stay off their feet Thursday night, in preparation for a tough match with a good Farragut team today. He said Farragut and Soddy-Daisy are perhaps the best of the eight-team field.
Byrd emphasized that the Lady Raiders were a different team in the second half, after a lackluster first period. “Our decision-making was a little off in the first period,” he said.
Kaitlyn Poulakis put the Lady Raiders out front in the first period with back-to-back goals, a lead their never relinquished. The first goal came from in front of the net when Poulakis skidded to a knee as she sent the ball past the East Ridge goalie.
East Ridge cut into Cleveland’s lead minutes later when junior Hannah Ellis broke away from the Lady Raiders’ defense and score on a one-on-one with the Cleveland goalie.
Although Cleveland dominated play through the remainder of the first half, the score remained 2-1 at intermission.
With a pep talk from Byrd at halftime, the Lady Raiders opened with three early goals in the second half and cruised to their third victory of the year.
The first goal in the second half came on a perfect set from Darby Keith (from the right side) which allowed freshman McKenzie Harris to send a header into the net.
The Lady Raiders scored again minutes later with a goal from Katelyn McChesney from the left side.
Bayleigh Ellis got the fifth and final goal for the Lady Raiders. She used her head to tip the volleyball over an East Ridge defender, followed the ball and scored against the East Ridge goalie.
Byrd praised the Lady Raiders involved in the scoring plays adding that he thought junior Leanne Indovino had a good match.
The Lady Raiders are scheduled for two additional matches in the Classic, today’s 4:30 p.m. match-up with Farragut and a 10:30 a.m. Saturday-morning match with Alcoa.
Other matches today will have East Ridge against Grace at 6:30 p.m., Alcoa taking on Soddy-Daisy at 6:30 p.m. and Ooltewah playing Silverdale at 8:30 p.m.
Saturday’s morning play: 8:30 a.m. — Soddy-Daisy vs. East Ridge. 10:30 a.m. — Cleveland vs. Alcoa. 12:30 p.m. — Ooltewah vs. Grace. Saturday afternoon: 4 p.m. — Silverdale vs. Soddy-Daisy. 6 p.m. — Grace vs. Alcoa. 8 p.m. — Farragut vs. Ooltewah.