Before their regular district season play could come to a close, both Cleveland and Walker Valley had one last opponent to take on, which happened to be each other.
In the battle between the Raiders and the Mustangs, it was an older Cleveland team that came away with an 8-3 District 5-AAA win.
Moss Jones and Anfernee Avila led the Raiders in scoring with three goals and two goals respectively, while Andrew Hannah knocked in all three of the Mustang’s goals.
After a strong start, Cleveland entered into the half with a 5-1 lead over Walker Valley.
“The first half went really well in the sense that we came out of the gate playing well. Moss, Anfernee, Jonathan (Collins) and Rosmel (Gallo), those four attacking players we’ve got, were playing really well and creative up top,” Cleveland head coach John Brose commented.
Avila got the Raiders on the board nine minutes into the game, which Jones followed up with two goals of his own.
“The first goal in soccer means so much, and anytime you can get that it just relaxes you as a team. Once we got into those goal scoring positions, we were able to finish them off,” Brose explained.
Cleveland’s first three goals were scored in a span of 10 minutes.
“We came out really flat, didn’t take control or start the way we wanted to and conceded three goals in 10 minutes. Then we started playing, but you can’t dig a hole like that and normally come back,” Walker Valley coach Tom Bayliss said.
In the 27th minute, Hannah was able to get the Mustangs on the board.
Two more Cleveland goals came in the final 10 minutes of the first half, by Brandon Romero and Avila.
Jones opened up the second half with a goal in the 43rd minute.
After much back and forth on the pitch, Cleveland’s Eric Arango found the back of the net for the seventh Raider goal.
Hannah notched Walker Valley’s second goal in the 65th minute, but nearly 10 minutes later Noah Todd scored the eighth and final goal for the Raiders.
Hannah managed to get a third goal past the Cleveland keeper in the final minutes of the game.
With the win over Walker Valley, the Raiders finished district play with a record of 5-1.
A first or second place finish for Cleveland now depends on the outcome of Monday’s game between Ooltewah and East Hamilton.
“We finished 5-1 in the district and obviously are really pleased with how we’ve been playing. We can’t control what happens on Monday with Ooltewah and East Hamilton,” Brose said.
Cleveland’s final regular season game and senior night will be Tuesday at home against Signal Mountain.
The Mustangs, on the other hand, finished with only one win in District 5-AAA play.
“We have to work on the mentality. We have to win a game that matters, and then you want more. If you don’t know what the taste is, you won’t crave it. We haven’t won any big games,” Bayliss commented.
RAIDERS 8, MUSTANGS 3
Halftime score: 5-1 (C). Goals: Moss Jones 3, Anfernee Avila 2, Brandon Romero, Eric Arango, Noah Todd (C); Andrew Hannah 3 (WV). Assists: Cobus Reyneke, Marvin Ruiz, Jones (C). Record: Cleveland 11-3-3, 5-1 District 5-AAA; Walker Valley 2-8, 1-5.