Lady Raiders advance to District 5-AAA semis
by SARALYN NORKUS Banner Sports Writer
Oct 13, 2013 | 675 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
District Soccer
KEREN VALENZUELA (10) keeps the ball under control for Cleveland as Bradley Central’s Sydney Blackwell (30) attempts to get it out of the zone. The Lady Raiders blanked the Bearettes 4-0 Saturday morning in the opening round of the the District 5-AAA Tournament at Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex. Banner photo, SARALYN NORKUS
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Following Friday night’s big football matchup between Cleveland and Bradley Central, the two schools went head to head on Saturday morning for some soccer action.

The Lady Raiders hosted the Bearettes for the opening round of the District 5-AAA postseason. By the time the final minutes of play ran out, it was Cleveland who came away with the 4-0 win.

Cleveland will travel south to take on East Hamilton, who defeated Ooltewah 1-0 Saturday, in the District semi finals Tuesday at 5 p.m.

“A lot of people said that we would be off kilter because we had a big, huge football game last night, but the truth is that when you trust your kids to do what you tell them to do, they do. Both teams came out today and were full of energy,” Cleveland coach Andy Byrd stated. “Bradley came in and gave us a great battle and helped us get a chance to get ready to face an East Hamilton team that is definitely quality.”

Bradley coach Chrissy McKinney felt that if her team had stayed active for the entire game that it could have been a very different one.

“I feel like if we could’ve just stayed alive and stayed active for the whole 80 minutes of play, it would be a very different game for us,” McKinney commented. “Getting tired and having those mental lapses, and they show up, and you give that middle to a very fast team, they are going to score on you. Giving them those center balls and runs through the middle — we just have to be better than that.”

The Lady Raiders battled through the Bearettes’ defenders, and, 16 minutes into play, Kendall Hamilton was able to score in style with a backwards header, assisted by Lorne Conn.

Sohara Perez, assisted by Hamilton, gave Cleveland a two goal lead 19 minutes later.

In the final two minutes of the first half, Sam DeBien notched the third goal for the Lady Raiders.

The second half gave Joshalyn Brown the chance to get her first goal of the year and the home team’s fourth of the game on a breakaway in the 63rd minute of play.

“We played at 10 a.m. totally fine, had a great half and spread the scoring out among four different girls and everyone on the bench played great soccer,” Byrd said. “Our second half wasn’t as sharp as the first, but, at the same time, it was a great team effort today.”

Cleveland registered 11 shots on goal during the game, while Bradley had two.

Despite having their season come to an unfortunate close, Coach McKinney was impressed by the improvements that she saw in her team.

“I told the girls before the game started that watching their warm up moves from early in the season versus now is like a whole different world. Their development is quite amazing. They’ve really focused in, worked and did everything that we asked them to do. We had a long road ahead of us at the beginning of the season, but they got us to where we are now,” McKinney explained.

The Bearettes ended the season with a 7-9 overall record.

Walker Valley also saw their season finished on Saturday with a 5-0 loss to Soddy-Daisy.

“In the first half the girls played very well. It was 1-0 going into the half,” Walker Valley coach Nathan Brown said. “It would’ve been a totally different game if we could’ve gotten a tying goal. Compliments to Soddy, they came out strong and executed.”

The Lady Mustang, who went 2-12 last year, were able to turn things around this season under their new coach and end with an overall record of 6-7-2.

“I’m very proud of the girls. We reached our goal of getting to .500 this season and competed all season long. I’m very excited to see what we can do in the next few years,” Brown commented.

Cleveland, who is the only team from Bradley county to advance to the District 5-AAA semi finals, is in for a challenge on Tuesday evening when they face the Lady Hurricanes.

In their regular season meeting, it was East Hamilton who came away with the 1-0 overtime victory.

“We go face an East Hamilton team that is very well coached and organized. It’s going to take a bit of practice on Monday to be prepared to go down and face them on Tuesday,” Byrd declared. “The ray of sunshine is starting to shine through now. I can’t say that we’re peaking, but we are on a general climb up.”