They’ll meet again in less than two weeks, likely with the Two Rivers 3A regular-season soccer title at stake, but for now Corinth Holders has the upper hand on Cleveland courtesy of a 1-0 road victory Thursday night.
Casey Coughlin scored the match’s lone goal, that coming with 4 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the first half, and Corinth’s defense took care of the rest as the Pirates (10-3-2, 4-0 Two Rivers) wrestled first place from Cleveland (7-5-3, 4-1) with the victory.
In a tightly-contested match which saw both teams garner their fair share of offensive chances, it was a fortunate bounce of sorts that enabled Corinth to strike for the game-winning goal.
That came after a long diagonal kick from Dillon Parker from the right side, about 25 yards from the goal. The ball landed inside the box, deflecting off Cleveland goalie Austin Myrick – who charged out to play the ball – and toward Coughlin, who easily booted the ball from close range into the open goal to put Corinth ahead.
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“I saw (teammate) Daniel Petersen try to get a head on it and it came to me,” Coughlin said. “I just hit it into the back of the net as best I could.”
Corinth Holders leaned on its defense after that, limiting Cleveland’s second-half scoring chances. Aside from three quick shots off a corner kick about 10 minutes into the second half and a 20-yard shot from the center of the field by Joseph Martinez that went wide left with about 16 minutes remaining, the Rams really didn’t muster any serious scoring chances over the final 40 minutes.
“I was very pleased with our performance,” said Pirates coach Brent Walston. “They did a good job at the end. We were lucky and fortunate that we were able to create and put one in ... but Cleveland was right in it at the end.”
Less than two minutes after Coughlin’s goal, Cleveland nearly got the equalizer when Ben Franklin kicked a booming shot from 30 yards out toward the right side of the Corinth Holders net. However, Pirates goalie Ryan Mills made a nice diving save to maintain Corinth’s lead.
THEY SAID IT
“We came out slow, to be honest. We didn’t play very well at the start, or at least I didn’t,” Parker said. “As the game progressed we did a whole lot better. I felt we finished strong.”
THREE TO KNOW
Dillon Parker, Corinth Holders: The senior midfielder was a constant presence both offensively and defensively. He helped set up the Pirates’ goal and also had a steal deep in Corinth territory in the final minute that helped preserve the victory.
Adam Landeros, Corinth Holders: The big forward created a number of good offensive chances not only for himself but also his teammates throughout the contest.
Hunter Lee, Cleveland: Though the Rams were shut out, Lee produced several scoring chances and nearly scored midway through the first half on a shot that just sailed wide right.
BY THE NUMBERS
4: Consecutive victories for Corinth, all coming in Two Rivers play.
2013: The last year a team other than Corinth or Cleveland won the Two Rivers regular-season title. Smithfield-Selma claimed the title that season.
Cleveland visits Corinth on Oct. 26. Cleveland coach Nicholas Gruhn was quick to point out Corinth won the first meeting between the two teams last season before the Rams pulled out a 2-0 victory in the regular-season finale to secure the league title.
“I’m not unhappy with anything, effort-wise, our team put out there,” Gruhn said. “Mentally, we were prepared for the game. They put one in and we didn’t. I’m upset with the result but I’m not upset with the way we played. It’s important now to bounce back and take care of the other games in our conference.”