For a full 65 minutes of Tuesday night’s soccer game between Cleveland (10-3-3, 4-1) and Ooltewah (8-2-3, 3-1) it seemed the two evenly matched teams were destined for overtime.
Rosmel Gallo had other ideas though, as the junior midfielder was able to finish a ball that was crossed in by senior forward Anfernee Avila for what became the District 5-AAA game-winning goal in the 71st minute.
“We were fortunate to stick that second one in the back of the net. It was a great ball across from Anfernee and Rosmel had a nice finish on it,” Raiders head coach John Brose declared. “Obviously it’s a great win. Ooltewah has a great soccer team and it was a back-and-forth game. They had their opportunities, we had our opportunities and it easily could’ve gone the other way.”
Cleveland jumped out in front of the Ooltewah just three minutes into the game thanks to a well-timed kick by sophomore defender Chris Pistrang.
The Owls were able to stall the Raiders’ momentum three minutes later, when Trey Tucker was able to get one in the back of the goal.
The remainder of the first half was a battle on the pitch, with neither side able to find a crack in their respective keepers.
With a 1-1 tie at the half, the efforts by both teams were ramped up at the start of the second half.
Ooltewah’s Tucker was once again able to get a piece of Cleveland keeper Zach Martin, this time literally, as both players were injured in an on-field collision around the 60th minute.
Reserve keeper Gustavo Wilhelm got the call to duty with a little under 20 minutes left in the game.
The sophomore keeper, who has played in only a handful of varsity games during his high school career, was able to come up huge for the Raiders in goal.
Wilhelm stopped four Ooltewah shots, three of which that had game-winning potential for the Owls.
“Zach Martin, our goalkeeper went out with an injury and Gustavo Wilhelm did a great job of stepping in for him and making some huge saves in the end,” Brose stated.
Cleveland tallied 11 shots on goal Tuesday night, while Ooltewah had eight shots on goal.
While Coach Brose knows the season has been a good one for his team, he was glad to see the Raiders put together a full 80 minutes.
“I’m proud of the way that our guys came out here and put together what I would say is one of the first times a full 80 minutes of play. We certainly needed that tonight because Ooltewah has a great team,” Brose commented.
Cleveland has one more district game left in the regular season, and will make the short trip north to Charleston to face Walker Valley on Friday at 6 p.m.
“Walker Valley is up next, and nothing is a given,” Brose said. “They have a much-improved team this year and are a physical team. We’ve got a couple days to get ready for them.”
RAIDERS 2, OWLS 1
Halftime score: 1-1. Goals: Chris Pistrang, Rosmel Gallo (C); Trey Tucker (O). Assists: Anfernee Avila (C); Ethan Knowles (O). Record: Cleveland 10-3-3-1, 4-1 District 5-AAA; Ooltewah 8-2-3, 3-1.
HURRICANES 2, BEARS 0
Senior night did not go according to plan at Bradley Central (8-3-3, 2-3) Tuesday evening.
East Hamilton (6-5-2, 4-1) came to town and was able to take a 1-0 lead within the first five minutes of play.
Moments later, the Hurricanes got another into the back of the net, taking a 2-0 lead.
The two goal deficit was enough to get the Bears’ working on all cylinders, but unfortunately the East Hamilton keeper proved to be very stingy in goal.
The Hurricanes’ 2-0 lead carried into the second half, and Bradley was unable to cut the deficit or stage a comeback win.
The Bears will travel to Ooltewah Thursday for their final District 5-AAA game of the regular season, beginning at 7 p.m.