RIVERDALE 2, EAST HAMILTON 1
Halftime: Riverdale, 1-0. Goals: Troy Gravatt, Eric Verdun (R); Jack Fletcher (EH). Assists: Diego Rodriguez, Gravatt (R). Records: Riverdale 13-2-2; East Hamilton 10-9-2.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Riverdale picked the perfect time to find a second postseason goal.
The Warriors earned their fifth state boys' soccer tournament berth in seven years Saturday night at Tomahawk Stadium with a 2-1 win over East Hamilton in a Class AAA sectional contest.
Senior midfielder Troy Gravatt played a part in both Riverdale goals. His goal in the 18th minute off a pass from teammate Diego Rodriguez gave the Warriors (13-2-2) an early 1-0 lead.
"It was off his feet," Gravatt said of Rodridguez. "I like to make runs down the middle. I just brought it through and finished it.
"It's good to build off that. I felt if we could play well, we could carry that over to the second half."
And the Warriors did.
Erich Verdun added an insurance goal in the 55th minute. Just minutes after his quick shot was stopped by goalkeeper Taylor Vanzant, Verdun put one past the East Hamilton sophomore off a pass from Gravatt.
Riverdale had scored just one goal in each of its first four postseason games this season. Three of the four games went into overtime, including two -- the District 7 and Region 4 finals -- that were decided in shootouts.
The 2-0 lead was short-lived. The Hurricanes (10-9-2) cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 60th minute. He benefited from Riverdale goalkeeper Kirkland Manglogiannis' deflection of a shot. Fletcher was right where the ball landed and rifled it in for the goal.
"We were throwing numbers forward," East Hamilton coach John Millard said. "We changed some things to put more pressure on their backs.
"We moved [defender] Cooper [Loftin] up top, which comes with a great amount of risk. But it was at a point in the game where we needed to take more risks to get back in the game."
The sectional was a rematch of a 1-1 regular-season contest on March 21.
"That's why look for games like that," Millard said. "We looked to this region, and you think who might you play in an important postseason game? Let's try to see them so we know what to expect.
"They were more successful."
Contact Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Kreager.