Cloud County Falls to Tyler, Texas at NJCAA Women's Soccer Championships
By David Wilson
CCCC Sports Information Director
The Cloud County Community College women's soccer team suffered a 5-1 loss to No. 2 Tyler Junior College in the first Pool B game of the NJCAA DI Women's Soccer Championships, hosted by Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne, Florida.
No. 11 Cloud County (15-4 overall), which is making its first national tournament appearance in school history, plays again at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday to try and keep its season alive in the second round of pool play against No. 7 Harford Community College.
As for Monday's game, three first-half penalty kicks between the two teams set the tone and ultimately decided the high-scoring affair.
The T-Birds had the first crack at getting on the scoreboard just 2:15 into the contest as freshman forward Joana Villanova drew a foul as she cut inside the box, setting up a PK opportunity for sophomore midfielder Angie Vergara.
Vergara, who entered play Monday 3-for-4 on penalty kicks this season, drilled a shot high and to the right corner of the net, but was stonewalled by Tyler goalkeeper Andrea Neves.
The Apaches (21-1 overall) capitalized on the momentum swing four minutes later as Hitomi Konno scored the first goal of the game at the 6:18 mark with a one-timer off a crossing pass.
"That penalty kick was the game," said Cloud County head coach, James Ross. "If we make that penalty kick, we'd have settled in, had more confidence and it would have put the pressure on (Tyler). It ended up being a two-goal swing. That penalty kick, and our lack of fitness, was the game."
Tyler added its second goal at the 13:57 mark via a 2-on-1 opportunity after a missed tackle in Cloud County's back row.
Cloud County quickly answered as Villanova buried a penalty kick shot at the 16:19 mark of the first half to cut the lead in half and get her team back into it.
Unfortunately for the T-Birds, the momentum was short-lived as Tyler's Julia Trabach scored her second goal of the game on a penalty kick chance at the 26:23 mark to bump the lead back up to 3-1. Tyler added a fourth goal with just over six minutes remaining in the first half to carry a 4-1 lead to the break.
The Apaches, playing a similar possession-oriented style to Cloud County, went into protect mode over the final 45 minutes, forcing the T-Birds, who were limited to two shots in the second half, to exert their remaining energy trying to regain possession.
Tyler added the final goal of the game at the 72:43 mark of the second half to cap the 5-1 final.
Freshman goalkeeper Alanya Hannigan faced a season-high 14 shots and finished with a career-high nine saves.
Cloud County will look to rebound on Tuesday when it takes on No. 7 Harford at 11:30 a.m. CST. With goal differential being the tie-breaker in pool play, the T-Birds will need a decisive win, and a Harford upset of Tyler on Wednesday, to advance.
At minimum, Ross said he wants his team to respond to the adversity and conclude pool play on a high note.
"We're not leaving the national tournament 0-2," Ross stated. "We need to come back out (Tuesday) and win a game. But we're back to square one."
The game will be broadcast by NJCAA TV. Subscription prices are $4.99 for a single game and $12.99 for a tournament pass. Cloud County fans can watch for free at the public showing provided by the Broadway Plaza, located at 600 Broadway Street in downtown Concordia, KS.