The Central Christian College men’s soccer team cleared an important hurdle with a 2-1 victory over the Manhattan Christian College Thunder on Wednesday night.
With just one game remaining on their regular season schedule, the win on Wednesday night assured the Tigers that they will finish the regular season with at least a .500 record, and with their record at or above .500 they have secured a berth into NCCAA post-season play.
The Thunder have typically played very tough against the Tigers. In fact, the first four games of the series beginning in 2006, were won by the Thunder. Three of the next four games were won by the Tigers, all by just a single goal and the 8th game of the series was a tie 0-0. It wasn’t until last year, that the Tigers were able to defeat the Thunder by a comfortable margin, winning at home 6-0. Tonight’s game was no different. There was no quit in the Thunder.
The Tigers controlled the time of possession, and created more opportunities, but struggled to find their finishing touch. They finally broke through in the 20th minute of the first half when Tyrone Pitter scored his second goal of the season. That was all of the offense in the opening 45 minutes. Up 1-0 at the break, the Tigers came out in the second half and found the net again just 9 minutes into the final 45. This time it was Gabriel Flores of a double assist by Stephen Morones and David Martinez-Salinas.
Flores’ goal would turn out to be the game winner, because the Thunder made the game interesting on when the cut the Tiger lead in half on a free kick in the 58th minute. From there, the Thunder picked up their intensity and made a game of it the rest of the way. In the end, the Tigers were able to hold off the Thunder charge, and came away with their eighth win of the season. Antonio Ramirez-Villa was in goal for the Tigers and came away with one save in route to the victory.
“I don’t think that the score line accurately reflected how the match went”, said CCC head coach Aaron Hoxie. “We missed a couple of breakaways, smashed the Keeper’s hands with the ball, and put it over from inside the 6 a few times as well. However, in this game, as with all games, you only need 1 more goal than the other team to win.”
Hoxie also said, “I’m very happy with the play tonight. We kept it, moved them around, but without a final product, the possession doesn’t really mean much. However, being in control of the match really helped us to dictate play, which was fun for me to watch. Credit to MCC because they really got stuck in their tackles and made us work. Once they scored their goal, which was a fantastic free kick I might add, their emotion was jacked up several notches, and it was difficult to see them out.”
The 8-7-1 Tigers will play their final regular season match on Saturday, a home game against the Johnson & Wales University Cougars, beginning at 3:30 pm.