Raider revenge earns region final spot

By JOE CANNON
Posted 5/14/19

Whether said by Don Corleone in "The Godfather" (1969) or by Spock quoting an old Klingon proverb to Captain Kirk in "The Wrath of Kahn" (1982), the sentiment is the same —  "Revenge is a dish …

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Raider revenge earns region final spot

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Whether said by Don Corleone in "The Godfather" (1969) or by Spock quoting an old Klingon proverb to Captain Kirk in "The Wrath of Kahn" (1982), the sentiment is the same —  "Revenge is a dish best served cold."

Cleveland High's soccer Raiders got to feast on a double dose of payback on Rhea County Tuesday evening by ending the Golden Eagles' season in the Region 3-AAA semifinals at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex.

"They (Rhea) beat us (1-0) in this round last year to end our season and they beat us (3-2) early this year (in the Cleveland Classic), so we were glad to be able to finally defend our turf against them tonight," commented head coach John Brose after his Blue Raiders notched a pair of late scores for a 2-0 victory.

"It was pretty even in the first half (0-0, 4-3 SOG), but they really put us on our heels in the start of the second half and got off several chances, but we were able to hold them off and finally break through and score.

"Rhea County (16-3-2) has a great team this year. We knew this was going to be a battle. I have a lot of respect for their program," the veteran Cleveland mentor remarked.

After a 2-7-1 start to the season, the Raiders have now won 10 of their last 11 matches, including a current six-match winning streak.

Cleveland (12-8-1) will now host Cookeville (14-5-1), which blanked Walker Valley 2-0, Thursday for the Region 3 title and the rite to host a TSSAA Sectional match Saturday against either Columbia (13-4-1) or Riverdale. 

In a pair of upsets, Columbia got past District 7 champ Blackman 3-0 last night, while Riverdale knocked off District 8 winner Shelbyville 2-1.

Actually both Cleveland and Rhea County scored Tuesday evening, but both goals went into the Raiders' goal.

After a scoreless opening 61 minutes, the first score came on an "own goal" with 18:35 left in the match. 

"You put your crosses in dangerous spots and sometimes things like that happen," explained Coach Brose. "Alan (Flores) challenged well for the crossing pass, but it went over his head and off that (Rhea) defender's foot and into the goal. It would have went wide of the goal, if not for hitting him."

After taking the lead, Cleveland continued to press and came up with their second goal with 7:10 remaining from a familiar pair.

"Danny Collins got the header for the goal on the corner kick from Casey (Beck). That's the same combination as the other day against Walker Valley," related Brose of his senior captains teaming up for the match-winning "Golden Goal" in the District 5 triple-overtime championship last week.

"Casey (Beck) was the District Midfield Player of the Year and Danny (Collins) the Defensive Player of the Year. That's a good combination that works well for us.

"Danny was doing it on both ends of the field. The way he has stepped up for us, especially the second half of the season, has been tremendous," the Raider mentor praised.

"He has been playing absolutely great. He was everywhere in the back tonight. He was a monster back there. And on set pieces on corner kicks from Casey, he has had some great opportunities. He's tall and can leap, plus Casey makes good crosses from the corner."

Although Rhea County outshot the hosts 17-9, none of their attempts were able to break the plane of the goal.

"All of our defenders played well. I challenged them yesterday," Brose proclaimed. "We've had trouble scoring goals, so I told them we were going to have to lock them (Rhea) down and they did.

"Will (Woodruff) didn't have his best game against them when they beat us 3-2 early in the season, but he got some redemption tonight," Brose said of his junior goalkeeper's 12 saves.

"He (Woodruff) played great tonight. He was strong in his box and had some really big saves. They (Rhea) were all over us in the first 20 minutes of the second half (nine SOG). He played smart and strong and took what they threw at him."

Woodruff got some big help from a pair of teammates on deflections that nearly went in.

"Danny (Collins) had a save and Gabe Harden had the other, that were big helps."

Collins's save came on a shot that Woodruff deflected but an Eagle player was able to get off a rebound shot that the senior denied.

Harden helped out when Woodruff tried to clear a ball but it ricocheted off a Rhea player and went back over his head and was headed for the net before the senior defender slid in to knock it away.

Thursday will mark the third time Cleveland will battle Cookeville in a region title match in the past four years. The Raiders won 2-0 on their way to the TSSAA State Tournament two years ago, but fell 3-2 in 2016.

Rhea County defeated the Cavaliers twice during the regular season, but fell 1-0 in last week's District 6 championship match.

Cavaliers 2

Mustangs 0

COOKEVILLE — District 5 runner-up Walker Valley was eliminated from postseason play Tuesday after the Mustangs fell to the District 6 champion  Cookeville 2-0 in the Region 3-AAA Tournament semifinals at CHS.

Walker Valley struggled to get scoring opportunities early, and the Cavs took advantage. After four saves from the Walker Valley goalkeeper in the first 15 minutes, Cookeville scored the only goal of the game in the 25th minute when Blake Burkhard found a streaking Caden Wilcox.

The Mustangs only had one shot on goal in the first half, but they stepped up their game in the second. 

Just five minutes in, Walker Valley took a shot on goal off a breakaway, but Cookeville’s goalkeeper was there to smother it. The Mustangs put together three more high percentage scoring opportunities in the second half, including a shot that made it past the keeper but was defended out at the last second.

After the save that prevented a tie score, Cookeville responded with an immediate streak down the pitch for goal by Burkhard with four minutes left on the clock.

— Ben Craven of the Cookeville Herald-Citizen provided the coverage of the Walker Valley match.

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