The Raiders scored twice in the first 40 minutes and were able to hold Notre Dame to just one goal in the second half in winning 2-1.
Senior Jesse Jones got the home team on the board almost instantly, scoring in the first minute of the game with the assist coming from sophomore Rosmel Gallo.
“You can’t ask for too much more than scoring in the first two minutes in the game,” head coach John Brose stated. “That first goal took a little pressure off us overall, and then we were able to settle down and play after that.”
Anfernee Avila increased the Raider lead by another goal with an unassisted score coming in at 23:34.
By halftime, Cleveland led the Irish 2-nil.
“Throughout our scrimmages we had in the preseason, we actually went down in all three and came back in the second half. So we had talked about coming out from the opening whistle and putting a little more pressure on teams and trying to reverse our fortunes a little bit in that regard. We definitely did that tonight, came out strong and put a lot of pressure on them,” Brose explained after the game.
Notre Dame was able to decrease its deficit to just one with a goal 11 minutes into the second half.
Coach Brose felt Notre Dame’s physicality on the field posed a challenge for the Raiders in the last 40 minutes of the game.
“We didn’t play our best soccer all the way around tonight. I feel like we’ve got a very good technical team and usually we knock it around really well. They just got a little physical with us. They had two big physical center backs who interrupted what we were trying to do offensively and as a result of that were able to put a lot of pressure on us in the second half.”
The Irish fought to tie up the game in the remaining minutes, but the Raiders came up with some big defensive stops when they were needed most.
“Even though we didn’t play our best soccer I was proud of the way our guys responded and were able to hold on there at the end,” Brose said. “It wasn’t the prettiest game we’ve ever played, but there’s something to having that one-goal advantage at the end and being able to grind it out and come up with the defensive stops that we needed late in the game to preserve the victory.”
The Cleveland squad is without the majority of its starters from last year, and Brose knows Tuesday’s game served as a starting point for future improvement.
“Tonight (Tuesday) was a great victory and we’re happy to start the season with a win. I think we all realize that we’ve still got some work to be done and have a lot of areas that can certainly be improved upon going forward into the season.”
The Raiders will host the Cleveland Classic beginning on Thursday as they take on Dalton (Ga.) at the soccer complex at 7:30 p.m.
NOTRE DAME 1
Halftime score: 2-0
Goals: Cleveland: Jesse Jones, Anfernee Avila; Notre Dame: Christian Colvard
Assists: Cleveland: Rosmel Gallo; Notre Dame: Davis Bostain
Records: Cleveland 1-0; Notre Dame 0-1.