Cleveland took on the Siegel Stars in their first game of the Classic, and came away with a hard-fought 2-1 victory.
“It’s always good to get off to a win in a long tournament; it gives you some momentum for the rest of the weekend,” head coach John Brose stated.
All of the three total goals scored in the game came in the first 40 minutes of play.
Only six minutes in, Anfernee Avila found the back of the net on an unassisted goal.
Nearly 10 minutes later, it was once again Avila who notched the Raiders’ second and final goal of the night, coming off of a header through the defense by Aaron Oliver.
Siegel was able to cut its deficit to just one in the 20th minute of play.
Looking like quite a different team than what was displayed in their opening match on Tuesday, Cleveland was able to control much of the midfield throughout the majority of the game.
“We played really well in the first half. We made a tactical change from Tuesday and I think it paid dividends for us. We opened things up more in the middle of the field and found a lot more space to operate. Brandon Romero played an absolutely great game in the middle of the field for us, as well as Chris Pistrang,” Brose commented.
During the second half the Raiders were unable to get anything else past the Star keeper, and had to battle back against a number of close-call offensive attacks by the Murfreesboro team to hold onto their 2-1 lead.
“Anfernee found the back of the net twice there in the first half and then we just rode it to victory from there. It wasn’t easy in the second half and Siegel made it difficult for us,” Brose explained. “We grinded out the victory and sometimes winning those games by one goal can make you more battle-tested for later on.”
Cleveland will take on Coffee County this evening at 6:30 at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex.
It was the Manchester-based Raiders who ended the Blue Raiders’ postseason run in 2013.
“Coffee County is the team that put us out in the region semifinals last year and I think that’s still fresh in some of the guys’ minds,” Brose said. “Obviously there it’s a different scenario playing them early in the season, rather than the postseason. They bring a good team, so hopefully we can come out and make it a winning streak going into the Saturday.”
Walker Valley will take on Sullivan South in the final 8:30 game tonight at the soccer complex.
RAIDERS 2, STARS 1
Halftime score: 2-1. Goals: Anfernee Avila 2 (CHS). Assists: Aaron Oliver 1 Record: Cleveland 1-1.
Thursday’s Cleveland Classic Results
Dalton 7, McMinn County 0
Cleveland 2, Siegel 1
Ooltewah 1, Boyd Buchanan 0