Unlike the tournament setup for sports like baseball and softball, the soccer tournament is made up of single elimination rounds; lose one, and the tournament run is over.
“Survive and advance, that’s what it’s about in the playoffs,” proclaimed Cleveland head coach John Brose.
Out of the three local squads, only Brose’s Blue Raiders survived to continue on to the district semifinals, while Bradley Central and Walker Valley both put up good fights, but saw their seasons come to a close.
Cleveland will travel south on Tuesday to take on top-seeded Ooltewah at 7 p.m. in what looks to be an exciting matchup.
During the regular season, the Raiders fell to the Owls in a close, one goal match.
“They beat us 1-0 the first time and it was kind of a tale of two halves,” Brose said. “They controlled one half and scored a goal, we controlled the second half and just couldn’t score.”
Saturday’s rainy weather and an earlier Saturday morning start time weren’t enough to deter the No. 4 seeded Raiders, as they went on to beat fifth-seeded Rhea County 5-1.
Alex Rodriguez got things started for the home team just five minutes into play and was able to get the first goal of the game off of a deflected ball.
A little under two minutes later, the Eagles got a goal past the Cleveland goalkeeper to tie things up.
The game didn’t remain tied for too long, as Anfernee Avila, with the assist by Mike Kanarski, scored the Raiders’ second goal at the midway point of the first half.
Cleveland’s final two goals in the first half were scored by Moss Jones only eight minutes apart. Jesse Jones got the assist for both goals.
“We were able to get forward on them and use our speed up front to our advantage and get lots of opportunities on goal,” Brose explained.
With a three goal lead going into the second half, the Raiders found themselves still having to continually battle with the determined Eagles.
“Rhea County came out, and they played really hard,” Brose said. “Even when we went up 4-1, we weren’t able to break their spirits, and they continued to play hard throughout the whole second half.”
Even though the visitors controlled much of the second half, they were unable to decrease their deficit on the scoreboard.
In the final minutes of the match, Kameron Dunn got an unassisted goal and put the Raiders four goals over the Eagles.
“It’s tough to get motivated for a 9 a.m. game on a rainy Saturday, but our guys did a good job of getting themselves ready to play. We came out, played hard, and we move on to the next round,” Brose proudly said of his team.
CHEROKEES 5, BEARS 1
ATHENS — Bradley Central found themselves on the other side of the coin Friday evening, as their post season was brought to a close by McMinn County.
As reflected by the scoreboard, the Cherokees proved to be too much for the Bears to handle in the end.
Things started out on a positive note for Bradley Central, who was able to hold McMinn County scoreless for the first 30 minutes of play.
“This was a marked improvement from the way we played, despite the score. Thirty minutes of 0-0, then it’s 2-1 and we give up a bad goal in the last 10 seconds to go down 3-1 at the half,” Bradley head coach Tucker Blackmon said.
Austin Childs was able to narrow the Cherokees’ lead to only one goal in the last four minutes of the first half, only to see them score a third goal right before the clock ran down.
The Bears’ attempts at making a comeback were successfully thwarted by McMinn County, who added two more goals in the second half.
“In my opinion, they scored two goals that were them — they scored two goals that were two of the best I’ve seen all season,” Blackmon proclaimed. “In my opinion, they have three of the best players in the district.”
Even though Bradley struggled for consistency during the regular season, Blackmon is pleased with the progress that was evident in the match against McMinn.
“Overall, I’m much happier with our direction. We’re a young team with only three seniors, two being starters. Despite the score, I’m pleased; this is progress,” Blackmon commented.
TROJANS 2, MUSTANGS 1
SODDY-DAISY — Having gone without a win up until the final three games of the regular season, Walker Valley was able to build some much-needed momentum just in time for their tournament match against Soddy-Daisy on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m really proud of our guys. We finished strong,” Mustang head coach Tom Bayliss stated. “Walker Valley is always dangerous in these tournament games, no matter what our regular season was like. I’m very proud of how the guys played.”
The Trojans took a one goal lead in the first half of the rainy match. Midway through the second half, Vince Rollins was able to tie things up for the Mustangs.
“The weather was sloppy, but I think that the two teams played great, as good as you can in this mess. Unfortunately, some of the calls and the officiating seemed to undermine our efforts a bit,” Bayliss commented.
With under six minutes remaining in the game, Soddy-Daisy was able to get the game winning goal and ended Walker Valley’s postseason.