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Champs One Win Away From State After Beating Richland

Noah Maddox
Posted 5/14/24

The Cascade Champions defeated the Richland Raiders, 2-1, in the Region 5-A Semifinal on Monday to clinch a sub-state berth.

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Champs One Win Away From State After Beating Richland


The Cascade Champions soccer program has never made the TSSAA State Tournament, but they are now one win away from doing just that after a 2-1 win in the Region 5-A semi-final over the visiting Richland Raiders on Monday night.

Two years ago, Cascade made history by making it to the Region Championship, ultimately falling to CSAS. Now, with updated regions, the Champions are set for a rematch with Chapel Hill instead after the Rockets went on the road to handedly defeat the Loretto Mustangs in the other semifinal on Monday.

Thanks to senior star Ivan Draine, and a little bit of luck, the hosts were able to put two goals past the Richland defense in the first 43 minutes and then hold on to keep their season alive.

Draine almost got the scoring started immediately for Cascade. In the first three minutes of the game, Draine had two golden breakaway opportunities saved by Raiders’ goalkeeper, Jesse Hood. 

Despite failing to score either chance, the Champs kept up the attacking pressure, never letting Richland get comfortable in possession. Then, in the 10th minute, one of Draine’s patented long throws in from the sideline found the head of Raiders’ defender Lucas Eslick, and unfortunately for Eslick, the ball ricocheted into his own net to put the hosts in front on an own goal. 

After conceding, Richland seemed to settle into the game a bit more, occasionally putting stress on the Champs high-line backline with Easton Hewitt, Jaiden Harris, and Hudson Dickey all finding space in the attacking third. 

In the 21st minute, defender Landon Hawkins was booked for a tackle on Draine that prevented another breakaway. This infraction seemed to inspire the visitors, as they found new life in their attack, putting more pressure on Nick Harris in the Cascade goal, but unable to put anything on target.

In the 35th minute, Draine dribbled past a trio of Richland defenders down the right sideline, playing a low ball across the face of goal that sliding sophomore forward, Jason Chanmavong, was just inches away from poking home into the empty net, instead softly colliding with the post. 

In the 38th minute, Richland found by far their best opportunity of the first half. A long free kick taken by Harris wound up bouncing around the Cascade box before Harris was able to make a crucial save on a rebound to keep Cascade in front, 1-0, before the halftime whistle blew.

After the intermission, Cascade started the second half the same way they started the first: threatening the Richland goal. Within the first 60 seconds, an Isaac Chapa header off a corner went just wide of the post, but the hosts kept pushing forward. 

In the 43rd minute, the Champs finally found their second goal. A long ball over the top put the speedy Draine in behind the Richland defense on the left side, and after a couple of quick cuts to get the ball back on his right foot, he found just enough space to fire a shot past Hood’s near post to double Cascade’s advantage, 2-0, and give him his 12th goal of the season.

Ivan Draine (2) was responsible for both of Cascade's goals vs Richland.
Ivan Draine (2) was responsible for both of Cascade's goals vs Richland.

A couple minutes later, another Chapa header found its way into the arms of Hood off a long throw. After that, Cascade began to hunker down defensively, focusing on closing out their 2-0 lead for the final half hour. 

For about 20 minutes, the plan worked brilliantly with Richland becoming more and more frustrated as they tried and failed to crack the Champs’ defense. However, that all changed in the blink of an eye in the 78th minute when Jaiden Harris and Gabe Perez went shoulder-to-shoulder in the box.  After Harris tumbled to the ground, the whistle blew to gift the visitors a lifeline back into the game at the penalty spot.

Harris stepped up to take the penalty, calmly putting it away into the bottom right corner to cut the host’s lead in half, 2-1, with just over ten minutes remaining. Unfortunately for Richland, they could not muster up another shot-on-goal, and Cascade held on through the final whistle to advance to the Region 5-A Championship on Wednesday night and clinch a spot in the sub-state round on Friday.

Richland’s season ends at 9-4-1.

Cascade improves to 9-3-1 (4-1-1) and will host Chapel Hill in a rematch of the District 9-A Championship game for the chance at a Region 5-A title with kickoff at 5:00 p.m.

Cascade Champions, Richland Raiders, Region 5-A