The battle for the Cherokee County championship kicked off Friday night as it was the Cherokee Warriors victorious over the Sequoyah Chiefs by a final score of 3-1. There is never any extra motivation needed when the two historic rivals square off, but the chance to get the first win of the season for both squads was on the line. The previous season saw a 1-1 draw with the year before that being a 2-0 Cherokee win. Another story line coming into action was the suspension of four Sequoyah players for this game due to undisclosed reasons, including that of the starting goalkeeper. With the JV teams squaring off the night before (a 6-0 win for Cherokee) the stage was set for the Varsity teams to determine bragging rights in Canton for the year.
The rain held off and the teams began a rather slow moving kickoff to the match. The first half saw nothing much to report as both teams struggled to find any momentum or rhythm. Sloppy play dictated the start of the match and neither team was able to even achieve a shot on goal attempt. Heading into a scoreless deadlock at halftime neither coach was particularly pleased, but adjustments were made and the action certainly picked up.
The Warriors gained some momentum early in the second half, raining a couple of shots on the Sequoyah goal. Despite finding the framework, none were able to find the net as the score remained knotted. Capitalizing off of a counter it was the Chiefs who found the scoreboard first. The Sequoyah attack pushed into the back, forcing goalkeeper Govani Hernandez (Junior) out of the net and leading to an easy goal for the Chiefs. Miscommunication ultimately played a huge factor in that. Cherokee would respond with a vengeance though. With 19 minutes remaining in the second half Junior Brandon Yepez took the ball at the top of the box and placed it beautifully into the bottom left corner for his first goal of the year. Less than 90 seconds later the Warriors would strike again. This time striker Isai Gonzalez (Junior) found space in the 18 and slotted the ball past the Sequoyah keeper to give the Warriors a 2-1 lead. This was also his first goal of the season (plus one in the preseason scrimmage). The momentum swing would prove too much for Sequoyah to handle as Senior Micah Maragh finished off the Chiefs for good, placing a loose ball header over the charging keeper (Maragh’s first of the season). The Warriors missed a penalty kick, shooting it off frame late in the ball game, but would still take the victory 3-1.
The win moves the Warriors to 1-0-1 on the young season while the loss drops Sequoyah to 0-2. Cherokee not only takes some momentum in the season but also in the battle for Cherokee County supremacy. Cherokee sees action two nights next week, both at home, as they play the Forsyth Central Bulldogs and the Marietta Blue Devils, two foes who beat the Warriors by 3 goals each last season. This was also the first official win in Coach Kaddah’s head coaching career.