CLEVELAND — McMinn County dominated in its first two games at the Cleveland Classic, but Maryville was an entirely different level of opponent that the Lady Cherokees weren’t quite ready for.
One of last year’s Class AAA state semifinalists, the Lady Rebels gave the Lady Tribe a reality check Saturday morning, handing McMinn a 4-0 loss at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex.
The Lady Cherokees (5-2) finished the Classic 2-1, with previous wins of 7-1 Thursday over hosting Cleveland and 6-2 Friday over the two-time defending Class A state champion from Signal Mountain.
But Maryville was simply faster at every position than anyone McMinn had faced this season, and that was evident especially in a first half in which the Lady Rebels kicked eight corners to none for the Lady Tribe.
“In the beginning I thought we were just a little bit shocked of how quick they were,” said McMinn Coach Jordan Jacob. “We never really faced anybody who had that much speed across the entire field, so it took a little adjustment. But those are the types of teams we should expect in the postseason, so we need to make sure we’re preparing for that.”
The Lady Rebels scored first in the 13th minute, with Lily Robinette receiving the deflection of her own corner kick and then arcing a steep-angled shot higher than McMinn keeper Bella Hooper could reach.
Allison Hansford had a chance to equalize in the 25th minute after getting fouled in Maryville’s box on a breakaway attempt, but her penalty kick hit the right post. Two minutes later, the Lady Rebels drew a foul in McMinn’s box, and Kayla Barr made her penalty kick for Maryville for a 2-0 lead that went to the half.
The Lady Cherokees were out-shot 24-12 overall and 17-6 on goal. All six of McMinn’s shots on goal came in the second half.
Barr knocked in her second and Maryville’s third goal in the second half’s eighth minute after winning an air ball against a McMinn defender and converting the resulting one-on-one versus the keeper. McMinn’s defense had settled down from there, but the Lady Rebels broke through for their fourth goal with 1:46 left.
Hooper finished with 13 saves for McMinn.
“Their speed in almost every position they have really gave us some issues, particularly our back line,” Jacob said. “But in the second half I thought our girls adjusted and did a pretty good job adjusting.”
However, Jacob came away from Saturday noting the Lady Cherokees need to sustain offensive pressure and possession better than they did.
“Once we get the ball in their end, just because we’re there doesn’t mean we have to shoot immediately every single time,” Jacob said. “Maybe sometimes we keep the ball a little bit longer just to make sure that we don’t have to defend quite as much. So maybe keeping the other team under a little more pressure.”
Addie Smith and Allison Hansford scored two goals each, and Kylee Hockman and Sydnee Duncan one each. Grace McDonald and Kayleigh Ridley each notched an assist.
The Lady Cherokees are back in action 7 p.m. Tuesday against Walker Valley at the McMinn County Soccer Complex. That match is most likely a battle for the District 5-AAA top seed.