COOKEVILLE – Coffee County Central High School soccer coach Andy Escue’s goal was to go into halftime close with Cookeville. The Raiders accomplished that but were never able to materialize anything offensively and fell 2-0 in the Region 3-AAA championship game Wednesday night.
It was the third loss to the Cavaliers for the Raiders this year.
As region runner-up the Red Raiders still advance to the sectional match at Smyrna on Saturday. It is the first trip to the round of 16 for the CHS soccer program in its history. A win Saturday will put the Raiders in the TSSAA BlueCross Spring Fling in Murfreesboro. A loss ends the season.
In each of their two earlier meetings this season Cookeville topped Coffee County on the strength of an overpowering first half. This time CHS coach Andy Escue beefed up the Raiders’ defense in the first period by moving Cody Howes from offense to position as a fourth defender. Overall the strategy was an effective counter to Cookeville’s four-man front, but 18 minutes in Cookeville’s Ethan Jones found the back of the net to put the Cavs up 1-0.
In the second half Howes moved back to offense and the Raiders stepped up the pressure on goal. Cookeville’s wall-like defense continued to hold the Raiders scoreless. Six minutes into the second half Cookeville added its second and final goal of the night.
Coffee County’s leading scorer, Ricky Ramirez, continued to nurse a strained hamstring and was not able to play at full speed Thursday. Marcello Aguilar, who scored Coffee County’s lone goal against Cookeville in the District 6-AAA championship match last week, was also playing at less than full capacity.
Coffee County is now 10-7-2 for the year, and Cookeville’s record improves to 16-6-1.
The Red Raiders will play Smyrna, Region 4-AAA champions, on the road Saturday. Please check back here for game time when it becomes available.