In their regular season meeting, it was East Hamilton that came away with the 1-0 overtime victory over Cleveland.
Tuesday evening, in the District 5-AAA semifinals, it was the Lady Raiders who were able to get the 1-0 win over the Lady Hurricanes, this time coming from a regulation goal by Sam DeBien.
“We were focused this time around; it wasn’t homecoming and we weren’t concerned with less important things,” Cleveland coach Andy Byrd commented. “We played well and it shined on us a little bit tonight. We didn’t take advantage of all of our opportunities, but we took advantage of a lot of our defensive opportunities — that’s what it takes at this point in the season.”
During Tuesday’s game, both the Lady Raiders and the Lady Hurricanes were evenly matched out on the pitch.
In the 80 minutes of intense play East Hamilton registered a total of four shots on goal, while Cleveland had a total of three. Those three shots on goal were all it took for the Lady Raiders to come away with the win, though.
In the 19th minute of play DeBien was able to capitalize on East Hamilton goalkeeper Abbey Saddler coming too far out in the box and having a head-on collision with Sohara Perez.
“Hats off to Sam for finishing a ball that was challenged by Sohara. You can say that it’s good coaching but that’s not it, that’s them being experienced and playing their whole lives,” Byrd stated.
The remainder of the game was a battle of the defenders, a battle that the Lady Raiders also won as their opponent remained scoreless.
“We’re still trying to sharpen the saw and I can’t say that it was the prettiest soccer that we’ve ever played. Coming down here and taking care of business, beating East Hamilton 1-nil on their own field, is a pretty strong thing,” Byrd said. “Thanks to East Hamilton for coming in and bringing a quality side. That is going to help us when we play in the district championship Thursday night.”
With the semifinal victory, Cleveland has secured itself a spot in the Region 3-AAA tournament which begins Tuesday.
“Things are starting to come together but we still have quite a few things to work on Wednesday. The good thing is that we’re in the region,” Byrd said.
There is a chance Cleveland will match up with Cookeville in the regional tournament.
In the first game of the regular season, the Lady Cavaliers managed a 4-3 victory over the Lady Raiders.
“We’ve got our hands full with Cookeville up there, who took it to us early in the season,” Byrd admitted.
Cookeville will take on Warren County for the District 6-AAA championship on Thursday.
Tuesday, the District 5-AAA champion will host the District 6-AAA runner-up, while the 6-AAA champion will host the 5-AAA runner-up.
Before focusing on the regional tournament, the Lady Raiders will try to ensure themselves the home field advantage for next week when they take on McMinn County at 7p.m. in Athens for the District 5-AAA championship.
“We took care of business, so that means we’re playing against McMinn County at 7 p.m. on Thursday,” Byrd stated. “I feel that if we can win another one, the district championship, our girls will really turn it on in the regions and set out to be the team that we want to be.”