Sam DeBien said Tuesday evening that the Cleveland soccer Lady Raiders were a "second-half team." But that night they were more like a "final 15-minute team."
Cleveland scored two goals in the final 11 minutes of play for a monumental 2-1 District 5-AAA victory at Soddy-Daisy. That snapped a six-year winless streak against the Lady Trojans, who had won the previous 12 meetings.
DeBien and Sohara Perez combined for the two goals, with Perez scoring in the 69th minute and the sophomore netting the ultimate game-winner in the 76th as Cleveland (10-5, 4-2) won its fifth consecutive match.
"Our first half wasn't good, but we've been a second-half team all year," DeBien said. "We hadn't beat Soddy-Daisy since 2007, and although I hadn't been around to experience a lot of that, it was pretty cool because I know that tonight was big for some of our older girls. We're starting to play better and things are starting to go well for us."
Soddy-Daisy (6-7-1, 2-3) took a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute on a goal by Miranda Smith. The Lady Trojans found some early gaps in the defense and were able to continually create opportunities. They had some early shots at increasing their lead, but saves by Cleveland keeper Jenna Scoggins kept the Lady Raiders close.
The Lady Raiders started to mount some pressure in the second half, and even though they were outshot 10-9 for the match, their final two attempts reached the back of the net. They played the match without senior McKenzie Harris, who was injured during the Chattanooga Christian tournament last weekend.
"We talked about what Soddy does yesterday in practice, and I thought that we both capitalized on our strengths and fixed some of our weaknesses tonight," Cleveland coach Andy Byrd said. "Tonight's match was about heart -- not X's and O's. We had to figure out what we could do to better serve us. I thought tonight spoke to our character that we found a way to win."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.