Bears drop close one to Ooltewah
by SARALYN NORKUS Banner Sports Writer
Apr 25, 2014 | 347 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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BRADLEY CENTRAL’S Jacob Hicks works the ball downfield during Thursday night’s game at Ooltewah. The Bears fell to the Owls, 1-0. Banner photo, SARALYN NORKUS
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OOLTEWAH — For the second time this season, Bradley Central head soccer coach Tucker Blackmon could find little fault in his team’s loss to District 5-AAA opponent Ooltewah.

In an evenly fought game that could’ve gone either way, the Bears’ coach was quick in reminding the team the 1-0 loss was nothing to hang their heads over.

“I am very pleased with my team. This is a loss that I can be happy with. We brought back textbook defense to the table, which we didn’t have against East Hamilton,” Blackmon stated. “It could have gone either way. I thought we did a good job.”

The change in the Bears’ (8-4-2, 2-4) play was evident as they went toe-to-toe with an always-tough Owls team (9-2-3, 4-1).

“For a while, Brendan Hayes was winning every header. Aziz (El-Qadi) was a lot for them to handle physically. I thought that physically we matched them well, but they probably possessed a bit more than us,” Blackmon described. “Overall, this was a very even game.”

The lone goal of the game was scored by Ooltewah’s Ian Wolfe with a little under nine minutes left in the first half due to an overaggressive play by the Bradley goalkeeper.

“He (Joey White) was trying to be aggressive and make a play for his team and got a bit overaggressive. It was an unfortunate goal,” Blackmon explained.

White, who is averaging between 10-12 saves a game according to the coach, saw very chances in the second half.

“In the second half, Joey touched the ball maybe three times,” Blackmon commented.

With Bradley furiously trying to tie things up, Coach Blackmon felt that Ooltewah’s defenders did a good job of closing the lanes.

“I didn’t think that we had really any clear-cut opportunities in the second half, but in the first half I thought we had three that were just a tap and it would’ve been in. We have to get better at finishing the drill when it’s there,” Blackmon said.

The Bears have a handful of days until they find out who they will take on in the District 5-AAA postseason.

“I think Cleveland and Ooltewah are the two best teams in our district. I still feel the same way, in that I don’t fear our first-round matchup, no matter who we draw,” Blackmon declared. “No one has blown us out this season. Two goals is the most that have been scored against us all season. No other team in the district can say that.”

OWLS 1, BEARS 0

Halftime score: 1-0 (O). Goals: Ian Wolfe (O). Assists: Leudy Franco (O). Record: Bradley Central 8-4-2, 2-4 District 5-AAA; Ooltewah 9-2-3, 4-1.