Up in the air

McMinn County’s Spencer Sullins out-jumps a Bradley Central defender for a header. The play resulted in a Cherokee goal by Robert Fiallos. McMinn earned the 3-0 win and will travel to Cleveland for the district tournament semifinals.

McMinn County soccer survived and advanced with a 3-0 thrashing of Bradley Central in the District 5-AAA Tournament quarterfinals on Saturday.

The Cherokees scored twice about six minutes apart in the first half and then added an insurance goal early in the second half.

“I thought we played one of our best games this year,” McMinn Coach Duane Rikard said. “We passed a lot better and we had a lot of shot opportunities. We had been struggling to get those opportunities, let alone putting them away. We put away our opportunities today.”

Rikard said it was a good win over an improved Bradley squad.

“Miguel (Armenta) has done a good job with them, they are better than they have been,” Rikard said. “A 3-0 win over Bradley is an achievement.”

McMinn will travel to Cleveland in the district tournament semifinals on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Blue Raiders won 3-0 in the regular season, but Rikard said the Cherokees are good enough to come home with the win.

“If we play like we did today it could be a very interesting game,” Rikard said.

McMinn scored about 20 minutes into the game off a corner. Spencer Sullins headed the ball, which bounced to the ground to Zayn Knox. He directed to ball to Robert Fiallos who scored on a heel flick.

The Cherokees doubled their advantage about six minutes later when Sullins scored off an assist by Fiallos.

The scored remained 2-0 at the half, but McMinn added to its lead early in the second half.

Brady Ervin threaded a pass through the center to the other side that Zaamel Mercer ran onto and blasted the ball into the net to make it 3-0.

Bradley almost scored about halfway through the second period, but the ball banged off the post.

About 10 minutes later, McMinn hit the post and the rebound shot was high.

Bradley had a scoring chance with about 12 minutes to play off a breakaway, but McMinn goalie Noah Graybeal charged out and grabbed the ball.

Graybeal made six saves in the game. McMinn outshot Bradley 24-8.

Email: scott.power@


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