Cleveland failed to draw from their past success and fell to the Cherokees 3-1 in a physically dominating game.
“We laid an egg and played terrible,” Raider head coach John Brose remarked. “We got away from what we’ve been doing well and that’s playing the ball on the ground, playing it quickly.”
McMinn demonstrated why it was a force to be reckoned with and quickly scored its first goal only eight minutes into the match.
“They’re a big, strong physical team. Their three guys up front created all sorts of problem for us. We were diving in on them and they were making us pay for it,” Brose said.
The Raiders were able to even up the score with 10 minutes remaining in the first half after Pedro Garcia was able to get the rebound off of a free kick.
Seven minutes into the next 40 minutes of play the Tribe took the lead and never looked back.
After 10 more minutes, Cleveland found its deficit increased by one more Cherokee goal.
McMinn’s defense proved to be too much for the Raiders, who were unable to find a way to break through to the goal.
“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit, they just outplayed us. We came out flat and they wanted it more than we did. You got your result right there, 3-1,” Brose commented. “I don’t know if you can attribute it to taking a week off, I think that’s all excuses at this point. The bottom line is that we just didn’t show up to play and they did.”
Having lost their first out of six district matches, the Raiders will have to focus on amping up their play and getting back to their winning form as the Raiders travel to Lenoir City on Friday.
“We just need to regroup from here and realize that we can’t take anything for granted. We have to come out and play,” Brose stated. “It’s back to the drawing board tomorrow and trying to get ready for Lenoir City on Friday.”
Cleveland’s next district match will be against crosstown rival Bradley Central at 5:30 p.m. on April 9 at Bradley.
MCMINN COUNTY 3, CLEVELAND 1
Halftime score: 1-1
Goals: Cleveland: Pedro Garcia
Record: Cleveland 5-3, 0-1