There was a 45-minute pre-game rain delay, the teams played through a 15-minute blackout in the first half, and they agreed before kickoff to play two 30-minute halves.
Garner and Cleveland played a tight non-conference soccer match on Tuesday night, and when it was all done the Trojans were just a little better.
Garner got two second-half goals — the last on a penalty kick — as the 4A Trojans took a 2-1 road win over the 3A Rams.
The win, Garner’s second in as many games in the series, improved the Trojans to 2-3-1. Cleveland fell to 0-4 in its first season under Nick Druhn.
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“I thought our second-half effort was much better,” said veteran Garner coach Jon Sherwin, whose team outshot the Rams, 8-4. “In the first half they were playing something like a 4-5-1 and we were not expecting that and were hitting a lot of walls.
“Once we figured that out our guys were winning the ball on our half of the field. This was the same type of game we had last year. We play different styles of soccer, so we learned a lot from playing them. I feel good about where we are going into conference play next week.”
Druhn said the Rams gave a good account of themselves.
“It was a good effort from the boys,” Druhn said. “I really couldn’t have asked any more out of them. I just want them to play against the better competition in the area.
“We’re improving every game against these big teams. We’re right there. We just have to finish on a few more opportunities.”
Cleveland scored first in the 23rd minute, with Markel Miles lifting the ball over goalie Robert McLamb with Tanner Costine on the assist, and the 1-0 lead held at halftime.
“The goalie came around and that gave me my area to shoot,” said Miles, who has two goals on the campaign. “I think our team is getting a lot better and we showed it tonight.”
But the Trojans tied it in the 38th minute, as Jeremy Jaquez received Matt Petherbridge’s corner kick in the box and popped the ball past Ethan Fellows.
“I was lingering in the back corner and saw he was looking for a good cross,” said Jaquez, whose goal was his second of the season. “I just went to the back post as usual and tried to keep away from the defenders.
“My hip was about the only body part I could use, but I managed to the goal.”
Garner won it in the 52nd, when Junior Ayala served a penalty kick into the left corner of the net for his first goal of the season.
“My teammates had a lot of confidence in me, and just settled me down,” Ayala said. “I feel like we’re very tough to beat if we all work together.”
Costine said he thinks the Rams are building a lot of character in tough losses.
“They’re really good competition for us,” Costine said. “I think we’re going to do really well when conference play starts.”