The last time the Blue Raiders went into district soccer overtime, it took more than 20 hours to complete the match, following a power failure at Raider Field that delayed the finish until the next …
The last time the Blue Raiders went into district soccer overtime, it took more than 20 hours to complete the match, following a power failure at Raider Field that delayed the finish until the next day.
Cleveland was 1:08 from another District 5-AAA overtime Tuesday against McMinn County when Ben Stetson took charge and found the back of the net to give the Blue Raiders the regular season championship.
The Raiders finished the season with a perfect 4-0 district record and earned the No. 1 seed in the 5-AAA tournament with the 3-2 victory over McMinn County.
"McMinn is a really good team, but that was the best start we've had all season," Blue Raiders coach John Brose said about the Alan Flores goal 20 seconds into the game. "It was a heck of a way to start, unfortunately they battled back and got one just a few minutes later."
The Cherokees tied the game at 1-1 in the 14th minute of the first half.
Casey Beck gave the lead back to the Raiders with a penalty kick with just over 12 minutes left in the half.
Looking for a third score to go up by two goals, the Raiders instead found themselves tied at 2-all when the Tribe found the back of the net in the 48th minute.
"I felt going into the second half if we could get one more that would do it, but they got a good equalizer," Brose recalled.
Offensive opportunities were there for both teams as time ticked down with neither able to pull off the finish.
With the Cleveland bench calling out the time left on the clock to the Raiders battling on the pitch, it looked as though a 10-minute golden goal overtime was the next step. But, with just 68 seconds left on the clock, Stetson came through on a free kick from the far side for the winning goal.
"Ben has a knack for putting himself in good spots. This is the second time he scored late in the game for us. He also did it against East Hamilton earlier in the year. I'm really proud of him," said a pleased Brose.
With the district season out of the way and only four games left until tournament time, the Raiders will be looking to continue to head toward a peak in preparation for the district challenge.
"It was a season goal of ours to come away as a (No.) 1 seed headed into the postseason. Now it's about taking care of it," Brose warned. "We still have not peaked as a team. We definitely are playing good soccer right now. We've got four games left in the season and hopefully we can continue to improve, get some guys healthy and peak at the right time."
The Raiders are on the road Thursday against Georgia defending state champion Northwest Whitfield.
"Just a fun away trip," Brose quipped.
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