CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Cleveland coach John Brose knew his team's District 5-AAA soccer match against Ooltewah was going to come down to one play. He just didn't suspect the person who wound up making it.
Rosmel Gallo scored a goal in the 75th minute, and Cleveland had a standout performance from backup keeper Gustavo Wilhelm in defeating the Owls 2-1 Tuesday night at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex.
The Blue Raiders (10-3-3, 4-1) still have a match Thursday against Walker Valley and could get the top seed going into the district tournament with a win if Ooltewah (8-2-3, 3-1) adds a victory over East Hamilton on Monday.
"Rosmel's a playmaker. He's great on the ball and crafty, but he's more about getting assists than goals," Brose said. "It was big that he was willing to take that shot in that moment."
Wilhelm was inserted into duty when starter Zach Martin had to exit after a collision with Ooltewah's Trey Taylor. The reserve keeper finished with five saves, three coming in crunch time after Cleveland had taken its one-goal lead.
"He doesn't get a lot of varsity playing time because Zach's so good," Brose said. "His number was called tonight, and he was ready to come out and had some huge saves at the end."
The Raiders got on the board early in the match when Chris Pistrang scored from about 20 yards out. They missed a chance for an early two-goal advantage when Anfernee Avila missed on an open-goal opportunity.
The lead was short-lived, as Taylor evened the match in the seventh minute on a goal assisted by Ethan Knowles.
Each team had chances the rest of the way, as Cleveland had an opportunity on goal stopped by a nonkeeper save by Sam Eaton. On the play when Martin and Taylor were injured, Taylor's shot glanced off the side post.
Ooltewah keeper Joey Sealor finished with 10 saves.
"We had our opportunities," Owls coach Rick Adolph said. "We had last week off and were a little rusty, and Cleveland put a lot of pressure on us in those first 10 minutes. We settled down and started to play, but they had one opportunity that they took advantage of. I'm still proud of my guys; we played well and fought hard."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.