Cleveland’s Rams turned out to be pretty good mudders on Thursday night.
In a soccer contest postponed from a day earlier and played in sloppy conditions on a cloudy evening, the Rams got a late goal from Dominic Piatek and escaped with a 1-0 Two Rivers 3A win over county rival South Johnston.
The result improved Cleveland to 5-4-3, 2-0 in conference play, while the Trojans fell to 4-6 and 1-1.
Cleveland had won the teams’ last meeting 5-1 in the first round of the JUSA Cup on Aug. 15 at Clayton. It was the sixth straight win over South for Cleveland, which leads the all-time series 8-1.
“We got a ball in good space and played it right,” Cleveland coach Nicholas Gruhn said. “We do that a lot — that’s not the first time we’ve scored on that same piece. South was there with us the whole night, but we got a chance and put it away. If we hadn’t the game could have tilted their way. I’m feeling pretty good about being 2-0 in the conference. We didn’t give up a goal this week.”
South has won four of its last six matches.
Cleveland had originally been scheduled for a non-conference home game with West Johnston on Thursday, but the game was postponed with no makeup date set.
The lone goal, which Piatek scored from the right side of the box on a cross from Hunter Lee in the 73rd minute. It was his third marker of the season.
THEY SAID IT
“The effort was great on both sides,” said South assistant coach Edgar Herrera, filling in for head coach David Diviak who was attending a graduate school class. “They put away their best chance. We had a few good ones, but unfortunately we couldn’t finish. Our goalie had a solid performance.”
THREE TO KNOW
Dominic Piatek, midfielder, Cleveland: The junior scored the match’s only goal.
“I was just looking to put my team in position to win,” Piatek said. “As soon as I saw (Reis Yu) with the ball in the air, passing it to Hunter I knew to go straight to the goal.”
Luis Garcia, goalkeeper, South: The senior finished with 15 saves.
“I played decent,” Garcia said. “I would love to have saved that last one, but unfortunately it hit the tips of fingers and rolled in.”
Hunter Lee, striker, Cleveland: The sophomore had the assist on the game’s only goal.
“The first 15 minutes were kind of rough, but we were better in the second half,” Lee said. “Coach got us to clean it up. It was an all-around good game.”
BY THE NUMBERS
2: South shots on goal in the second half.
6: Saves from Cleveland goalie Austin Myrick.
8: Second-half saves from Garcia.
15: Points this season from Lee, who had six goals in 11 games before recording his first assist of the campaign on Thursday.
The rematch is Oct. 17 in Four Oaks.
Cleveland hosts Smithfield-Selma on Tuesday.
South’s next two games are also on the road, beginning with a visit to Triton on Tuesday.