Corinth Holders’ girls soccer team remained unbeaten after passing a tough test against defending conference champion Cleveland on Tuesday.
The Pirates’ 3-2 victory was their first ever over the Rams. Corinth Holders is playing its second season in the 3A ranks after moving up from 2A.
“We knew coming into this that we had to play a great game, and it wasn’t pretty, but we pulled it out,” Corinth Holders coach Alison Vetteri said. “In years past we’ve never beaten them. We’ve come close, but this was the first time we came out on top.
“We have a new team this year, only have two seniors, and we are gelling nicely. Today was the test that we needed.”
Corinth Holders improved to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the Two Rivers 3A Conference. Cleveland, which played four 4A teams in its nonconference schedule, dropped to 0-6 and 0-1 in the conference.
“They are a good team and we had our chances but just couldn’t capitalize on them,” Cleveland coach Marissa DiMarco said. “If we had capitalized on the opportunities, we could have easily had that game.
“Today was a new start to the season. The five losses before don’t really matter. We are going for conference. Just because we lost the first one doesn’t mean we are out of it.”
Corinth Holders led 2-1 at halftime on goals by Allie O’Hara and Bella Iorio.
The second half started off with an offensive flurry, with each team scoring a goal in the first two minutes, then settled into a defensive standoff.
Cleveland’s Cassidy McNierney tied the score at 2-2 with a goal just 39 seconds into the second half. Corinth Holders answered with 38:05 remaining when Summer Mitchell scored from the right side on a shot from a tight angle.
Mitchell had the ball just about even with the goal mouth when she let a shot go. It deflected off the far crossbar and into the net.
“I was looking for a cross (pass) but I just let it go and it deflected into the goal,” Mitchell said. “I just got lucky but a goal is a goal.
“We knew coming in it was going to be a very physical game and a hard game that we had to win. It was a big win for us.”
Corinth Holders controlled the ball in the Cleveland end for most of the opening 15 minutes, but had nothing to show for it. The Pirates broke through in the 16th minute when O’Hara took a feed from Gladwell Maddy and lifted a shot over the Cleveland keeper and into the back of the net.
Cleveland tied it at 1-1 on a similar shot from Morgan Maxwell, who lofted a shot into the back of the net in the 21st minute.
Three and a half minutes later, Corinth Holders got a penalty kick from just in front of the goal when Iorio was fouled. She slid the ball into the left corner of the net for a 2-1 lead.
Iorio, a senior midfielder, limped off the field twice in the second half. The Corinth Holders coach said she was hopeful that Iorio would not miss any games.
The final 38 minutes became more and more tense as the minutes ticked away and neither team could score. Vetteri kept shouting to her team to relax and DiMarco kept extolling her squad to put the ball into the net.
“I think it was just the defense digging in making sure that everything just kind of played out,” Vetteri said. “Our defense as a whole is doing very well. Bella Iorio is our leader out there. When she got stepped on, it was a little bit of a panic, but we pulled it out.
“That was a very hard-fought win. They are a great team. Anytime we play each other, it’s a big game.”
This one just turned out to be a first for the Pirates. A first-ever victory over the Rams.