The Mustangs, still looking for their first win of the season battled the Cleveland Blue Raiders (7-8, 2-2 District 5-AAA) for 80 minutes giving up single goals in both halves. Walker Valley (0-8-1, 0-5) again had chances offensively, but could not close in the 2-0 loss.
“This is what I knew we were capable of doing. We missed our opportunities (to score), we had ours they had theirs. We just struggled with that final touch, putting in the back of the net of getting shot off when we needed to,” Bayliss said. “But, the biggest thing I saw tonight is we played with that passion, that grit. We can teach technique, we can teach tactics, we can’t teach grit. We played with that tonight and I’m proud of the boys.”
The Blue Raiders also had numerous opportunities for find the back of the net. Alex Rodrigues made good on the only score of the first half in the 27th minute with an assist by Anfernee Avila.
“We were able to swing the ball from side to side and actually use our backs to attack. Good things happened for us on that particular play. Zach Near, our right back, was able to get forward and Jesse Jones played him a good ball. We had some good movement in the box and Anfernee laid it off to A-Rod and he blasted it from the arc right into the back of the net,” recalled Raiders coach John Brose. “It was a good goal for us.”
After holding the Raiders scoreless the rest of the first half, Walker Valley gave up one more goal in the 69th minute on a score by Avila with an assist from Jonathan Collins.
“Walker Valley, hats off to them. They played really well, a lot of effort. At times I think they wanted it more than we did and it definitely showed. When we were able to settle down, take the ball, put it on the ground and sling it from side to side is when their defense started to open up. That’s when gaps appeared we just didn’t see it enough out of our guys tonight,” said Brose. “We tried to force the issue a little bit up front. Hats off to them. They played really well defensively and gave us some fits up top. We are happy to get out of here with a win today.”
The Blue Raiders hit the pitch again Monday at home against Ooltewah. The Cleveland junior varsity will be in tournament action scheduled today and Saturday in Athens. The Mustangs will try again for that first win Tuesday against Bradley Central in their final regular season district game. Bayliss said he will be looking for the same determination he saw against Cleveland.
“I can take this (kind of loss). Obviously we want to win any game but I can take a loss when we play well and we played well. We played very well. We met my expectations,” he said.