The Cleveland Lady Raiders soccer team had few difficulties in defeating Bradley Central’s Bearettes Thursday evening. What was even more important ... the Lady Raiders won by “enough.”
Cleveland coach Andy Byrd explained that his team is tied with McMinn County in the district standings. With the tie, the top team in the standings is determined by goal differential. “We needed to win, but we needed to win by more than two goals,” Byrd said ... adding McMinn County was two goals ahead in goal differential.
Cleveland won the match 4-0, getting their fourth and final goal in the final minute of the second period.
“I wanted to get ahead by at least three goals in the first half, which we did, but I wanted to add to it in the second half,” the Lady Raiders’ coach emphasized. “I was impressed with the Bradley goalkeeper in the second half. She played very well.”
Mikala Ard came in for starting goalkeeper Lydia Brown in the first period, when Brown told coach Chrissy McKinney said she wasn’t feeling well. Ard finished the match, and kept the Lady Raiders scoreless until junior Leanne Indovino connected on a goal as the clock was winding down.
Indovino has been slowed with an injured knee, but was near full speed Thursday.
Cleveland goalkeeper Alison Simpson had also been ailing during the day, according to coach Byrd. But, she needed very little energy since the Bearettes spent very little time on their offensive end of the field.
Setting the pace for Cleveland was Kaitlyn Poulakis. Cleveland’s junior midfielder had a number of shots on goal and hit two scores in the first half from the 30- to 40-yard range. She had a number of additional shots at the goal in the second half, but most sailed just above the net.
“It was a good win for us, and we won by more than two goals,” said a satisfied Byrd after the game.
The Cleveland coach also praised the play of some of his team members. “Indovino played a heck of a match,” Byrd said. “Poulakis was shooting well, and Alex (Hutt) and Bayleigh (Ellis) made contributions to the win.”
In criticism, Byrd added, “We tend to get complacent at times.”
Bradley Central’s McKinney said the match went much as she expected. “We’ve got to get a touch,” she said of her team’s offensive play. “We’ve got a young team, but we’re learning.”
McKinney was also pleased with the play of her reserve goalkeeper.
Freshman McKenzie Harris put the Lady Raiders on the scoreboard first, hitting a kick midway of the first period for a 1-0 lead. Poulakis followed with her two long-range kicks, from the midfield area, and Cleveland was ahead by a 3-0 score at halftime.
The second half was a defensive battle, mostly in front of the Bradley net. Indovino ended the scoring, and the game, with her late score.
n Ten minutes after action began, it appeared the match might be a “washout.” The sprinkling system came on and drenched Bradley’s starting goalie. Coach Byrd corrected the watering timer and play resumed.
n The Lady Raiders welcomed the Cleveland Middle School soccer team at halftime. “It’s something we do every year to show them we appreciate their efforts on the soccer field,” said Coach Byrd.
n The Lady Raiders have one more match before district playoffs begin. Cleveland will entertain Grace Baptist Academy at 7 p.m. next Thursday on Senior Night.