With the Dalton Catamounts as their first opponent in the fifth annual Cleveland Classic, the Cleveland Raiders knew they were facing an uphill battle from the start.
“Dalton is a very good team. Year in and year out, they’re always very good. I think they went to the Elite 8 in the Georgia state playoffs last year and they returned a bunch of guys, like 10 or 11 seniors,” head coach John Brose stated.
The Catamounts lived up to their fearsome reputation Thursday night, as they painfully defeated the Raiders 5-0.
“Going into the game we knew it was going to be a tough one, but I think our kids came out and played hard and didn’t back down from them at all,” Brose commented. “It was just one of those nights where maybe a little better team got the better of us.”
Dalton’s first goal came eight minutes into the game and a second goal followed 10 minutes later.
The Raiders were able to hold the Catamounts scoreless for the remaining 20 minutes of play prior to halftime.
“I was proud of my guys, they never put their heads down and kept playing hard the whole game,” Brose said of his team.
The visitors came back to the second half of the game fired up, and despite the defensive efforts of Cleveland, were able to score their third goal at the 45-minute mark.
The Raiders were able to come up with some shots on goal, only to be continually stopped by the Dalton goaltender.
“Will Haas for us in the back played really tough and was able to win a lot of 50/50 balls and showed a lot of grit and determination. Alex Rodriguez played really well in the second half and had a couple good shots on goal that they just didn’t fall for,” Brose said after the game.
The Catamounts further wounded the already trailing Raiders by adding two more goals within four minutes of each other in the last 20 minutes of play.
“They were definitely the better team tonight, but I don’t think that they were five goals better than us, necessarily,” Brose said of the loss. “We were able to play 22 different players to try to keep our legs fresh for the weekend, and I thought everybody that hit the field for us did a good job.”
Despite the blowout, Cleveland will have the chance to sweep it under the rug as it takes on Coffee County this afternoon in day two of the Cleveland Classic.
“Playing a team like that I think we learned a lot about ourselves, sometimes you learn more from a loss then from winning. Now the thing is just trying to regroup for our game against Coffee County tomorrow and maybe get into that win column,” Brose explained.
The Raider vs. Raider matchup will be at 4:30 p.m. at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex.
The Walker Valley Mustangs will join in on the Classic action this evening as well, taking on Blackman at the Lee University soccer field at 6:30 p.m.
Halftime score: 2-0
Record: Cleveland 1-1