District 5-AAA play got underway for familiar county rivals as Walker Valley made the short trip down to the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex to take on Cleveland.
The end result of a hard-fought and physical match was a 4-0 win for the Lady Raiders.
“1-0 in the district is always a good way to start. You have to give credit to Walker Valley — they came in and are in the middle of a transitional period over there,” Cleveland head coach Andy Byrd said. “They came in and fought until the end, which is the mark of a quality program. Watch out for them next year, better yet watch out for them in the postseason.”
The transitioning Lady Mustangs knew they faced an uphill battle going into the match, but a sluggish start against a quick scoring Cleveland team did them no favors.
“We know that Cleveland has a lot of individual talent and a bigger pool to choose from. I’m proud of my girls, but I know that this shouldn’t have been a 4-0 game. In reality we had a few lapses and then in the second half it was an even game. There are still a lot of things that we need to work on,” Walker Valley head coach Nathan Brown commented.
Senior Lorne Conn got the Lady Raiders on the board 10 minutes into the game.
“We had great overall play. There was some super-creative play coming from Sohara Perez — I think she did well for us. Lorne Conn got us on the boards early and anytime you can get on the board early, it will deflate the other team,” Byrd said.
Senior McKenzie Harris followed suit 10 minutes later with a goal of her own off a penalty kick, putting Cleveland up 2-0 midway through the first half.
With just over seven minutes remaining in the half, Harris was able to get her second of the evening.
Almost halfway through the second, Sam DeBien was able to get Cleveland’s fourth and final goal of the game, with the assist coming from Harris.
“The shots are improving and our follow-ups are improving. It’s been a great week so far for us,” Byrd said. We’ve got three games coming up this weekend and then next week we continue our district play against a tough McMinn County team.”
Even though the final score might not reflect it, the Lady Mustangs’ efforts never quit and were amplified in the second half.
“Unfortunately that is a trademark of some of these Walker Valley players — sometimes they need a kick start to get going. I told them that they had potential and what they were good at, and then the second half it was a different team,” Brown explained. “I’m hoping that we can play a whole game like we did that second half for the rest of the season, [and] I think we’ll be fine.”
According to Coach Brown, captain Allyson Flock, a junior, was a strong presence on the pitch.
“Allyson Flock really stood out and helped us out tonight. She was tremendous and was actually playing with an injury,” Brown said.
Walker Valley junior goalkeeper Abbey Sanders faced 11 shots on goal Tuesday evening, while Cleveland’s junior keeper Jenna Scoggins faced seven.
“I can’t say enough about Jenna Scoggins and her sure hands. She’s there when she should be and she’s there when she shouldn’t be. Calli Baker anchored down our defense and was great back there,” Byrd commented. “I played everybody on the bench except one kid who was ill. When it comes down to it, if you can get everybody out there and see the strengths and weakness of the players, the future looks bright.”
While the Lady Raiders immediate focus will be on their upcoming Cleveland Classic this weekend, the Lady Mustangs will turn their sights to an incoming GPS team next Tuesday.
“Next week we play GPS, which will be even tougher than this was,” Brown stated. “We’ve just got to be a bit tougher and score more. The Cleveland girls were definitely physical and we’ve got to up the ante in the physicality department.”
Cleveland’s next district match will be next Tuesday against McMinn County.
BRADLEY CENTRAL 2,
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN 0
The Bearettes have gotten another ‘W’ under their belts, as their victory at Signal Mountain Tuesday evening gives them a 4-0 start to the season.
Caley Jones, who has already registered eight goals so far this season, got Bradley on the board 15 minutes into the match from a shot in the box off a throw-in.
In the second half, Haley Yarber was able to score from the top of the box with 26 minutes remaining in the game.
Goalkeeper Lydia Brown got the shutout for the Bearettes, stopping all seven of the shots she faced.
This Saturday Bradley will travel to Chattanooga to take on Grace Academy for a 6 p.m. game.
LADY RAIDERS 4, LADY MUSTANGS 0
Halftime score: 3-0. Goals: Lorne Conn, McKenzie Harris, Sam DeBien. Assists: Harris. Record: Cleveland 3-1, 1-0 District 5-AAA; Walker Valley 3-2, 0-1.
BEARETTES 2, LADY EAGLES 0
Halftime score: 1-0. Goals: Caley Jones, Haley Yarber. Record: Bradley Central 4-0.