TYLER, Texas —
Showing just how difficult it is to win at the national tournament, the second-seeded Cowley College men’s soccer team suffered a 3-2 season-ending loss to seventh-seeded Arizona Western Wednesday at the NJCAA Division I National Championships played in Tyler, TX.
After defeating LSU-Eunice in its opening game of the national tournament on Monday, Cowley finishes a record-setting season with a mark of 18-1 while Arizona Western (19-1) advances to the semifinals out of Pool B.
The Matadors jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Romaric Berneron scored on a free-kick from 30 yards out only four minutes into Wednesday’s contest. A goal by Hugo Catherine, eight minutes before halftime, would increase Arizona Western’s lead to 2-0.
All that hard work in building the 2-0 lead for the Matadors would evaporate in the first four minutes of the second half as the Tigers would get back-to-back goals, off set pieces, from Bassirou Sene and Hideto Gondo to tie the game at 2-2.
However, 10 minutes later, Arizona Western would go back in front on a goal from Ridwane Boukraa with 30 minutes left to play.
The Tigers would continue to battle until the very end and had a free-kick by Masaya Sekiguchi sail just over the cross bar with a little more than a minute remaining.
The sadness rained over the Tigers as the clock struck zero.
“The boys fought hard but we were not good enough,” Cowley head coach Ruy Vaz said. “At this level it is critical to take the chances and put them away. Also, we have to be completely focused and minimize our mistakes because with everything on the line, an error can throw the team off mentally.”
Cowley will say goodbye to 15 sophomores who have been a part of 29 victories over the past two seasons.
However, the 20 freshmen on the roster, gained valuable experience throughout the season and will be back to help Cowley make another run at a national title.
“Overall it was a good season, and I’m proud of what the players have accomplished,” Vaz said. “We will take this loss as a learning curve.”