MINT HILL, NC – The local rivals squared off at “The Rock” on Thursday evening and played an excellent soccer match that showed the strengths and some areas for improvement by both teams.
The Rocky River soccer team is having themselves the best season in the schools history, while Independence is in a rebuilding year with many young players.
During the first 19 minutes of the match the two teams rumbled up and down the field with a lot of action happening around midfield. The passing game was solid, both teams moved the ball well, and it appeared they were gauging each others style of play including establishing the tempo of the game.
However, at the 20:00 minute mark in the first half, the Ravens would score first when David Rodriquez found the range and smacked a shot past the Patriots goalkeeper to take a 1-0 lead.
The Patriots would respond 27:00 minutes into the half when Noah Cleveland would find the range and slammed a hard shot past the Ravens goaltender to tie the score at 1-1. The Ravens wasted no time and countered with a quick breakaway, they took a 2-1 advantage a minute later when Gil Almanza with a rush on the net, drilled a shot into the goal for the go-ahead score at the 28:00 minute mark.
Since the teams play 40:00 minutes each half, the clock now had 12:00 minutes remaining in the first half. The teams were pushing and matriculating the ball up and down the field with solid crisp passing. Independence was playing more aggressively than the Ravens who seemed content to hold on to their 2-1 lead as the clock was running down. However, Indy kept the pressure on the Ravens defense, and Luca Martinez would blast a rocket into the corner of the net to tie the score with 2:12 remaining.
The first half would end with the score tied 2-2 in an action-packed contest between the two rivals who fought to a draw midway through the match.
In the second half, both teams came out swinging, they played aggressively, rushed the ball up and down the field, while picking up the pace of the game. However, it became apparent the Ravens were starting to control the time of possession, and more time was being played in the Patriots end of the field on defense.
The additional offensive pressure and ball control being applied by the Ravens eventually paid off when the Ravens Kevin Valle found an opening in the Patriots defense and punched a nice shot into the net for the eventual game-winning goal giving the home team a 3-2 lead 24:00 minutes into the second half. The Ravens now had to hold off the Patriots for another 16:00 minutes to secure the win.
The Patriots picked up the pace, especially during the final 6:00 minutes of the contest. They continued trying to set-up a shot on goal, but the Ravens defense was up to the task, they were able to run the clock out and secure the victory.
The Ravens are now 5-4 on the season overall, and 2-3 in the Southwestern 4A Conference enjoying their first winning season to date. They will meet Garinger next in an away game, while the Patriots will play an arch-rival match with Butler at home on Tuesday, October 5th.