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BOYS SOCCER: Cleveland defeats Tualatin 2-1 (9/12/2013)
September 29, 2013By Steve McCrea of Cleveland High School
The Warriors men's soccer team faced their first 6A opponents, the Tualatin Timberwolves, for their home opener at Cleveland Stadium Thursday evening. Cleveland had to play without senior midfielder Adrien Barues, who was out with an ankle injury, but the Warriors' 4-5-1 system continued to work well with a series of reserve players filling in effectively. Both defenses were strong, but the Warriors won on two second-half goals by seniors Charlie Clark and Francesco Verna-Ketel.
Cleveland's first good scoring opportunity came just 2:00 into the game, when senior Connor Rodriguez-Scott stole a ball from the Timberwolf defense and got it over to senior Braxton Griffith on the left side, who send a solid left-footed shot just past the upper left corner of the goal.
Cleveland established some good control of the ball early, but Tualatin almost scored on a good chance 9:00 in. Tualatin senior Madiba Sutton showed great speed in beating the Warrior defense to a long clear, and got a close-in shot off, but senior keeper Hubie Charman had come out and taken away his shooting angle, and Sutton shot it wide of the right post.
Sutton again got off a quick shot in the 26th minute as he contested a 50-50 ball with a Warrior defender, but Charman was again in good position to make the stop.
Defense dominated the rest of the half, and the teams went into halftime tied 0-0, with Cleveland outshooting the Timberwolves 7-6.
Early in the second half, an injury to senior midfielder Kevin Elliott McCrea led to another substitution, with senior Mudy Abdikadir dropping from forward to midfield, and senior Francesco Verna-Ketel subbing for Mudy at forward. On the very next play, senior Braxton Griffith headed the goal kick forward right to Verna-Ketel, who made a good move to his left, muscled past two Timberwolf defenders, and scored on a well-placed left-footed shot from 15 yards out at the 44:00 mark of the game for his first goal of the season.
The Warriors almost made it 2-0 just 4 minutes later, when senior Daniel Merchant sent sophomore Jorge Flores in behind the defense, but his shot went just wide if the left post.
Tualatin tied the game in the 54th minute, as senior Cesar Perez hit home a bouncing rebound off a Tualatin corner kick. The Timberwolves had two more corners and a couple of low throw-ins, but the Warrior defense did not allow another good scoring chance until late in the match.
In the last 15 minutes, Cleveland took control of the ball, but were unable to get any good scoring chances despite dominating play. With just 2:00 left on the clock, some hard work up front by Rodriguez-Scott earned a corner kick from the right corner. Merchant sent the corner across the goal, and it was headed in the air by a Tualatin player. Defender Charlie Clark pushed through a mass of defenders to get under the ball, and headed it home for the winning goal, his second of the season.
Tualatin's Sutton had another good shot from 25 yards out with 1:30 remaining, but it sailed over the bar, and the Warriors walked away with a well-earned 2-1 victory. Cleveland is now 3-0 and sits atop the Power Rankings for the Oregon 5A division (see http://www.osaa.org/activities/bsc/rankings to follow the rankings as the season progresses).
Cleveland showed great depth and patience Thursday, as they continued to control the ball well against probably their toughest opponents of the year, despite two key injuries to starting players. It remains unclear if the injured Warriors will return for the upcoming match with 5A rivals, the Sherwood Bowmen, on Tuesday night at home, but Cleveland has shown it has the depth to win a tough match, no matter who walks onto the picth.
No video highlights for this game.