By RAMA PEROO/Cowley College
Playing its first game in 16 days, the fourth-seeded Cowley College men’s soccer team shook off the rust to defeat fifth-seeded Coffeyville 3-2 in the first round of the NJCAA Plains District Tournament played Monday at the Mark A. Phillips Athletic Complex.
Cowley (12-4) advances to face top-seeded Neosho County (11-5) Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Stryker Sports Complex in Wichita, KS.
On Monday, Cowley dominated the game and never trailed in the 3-2 victory.
“It’s a very emotional game, and I am very proud we were able to advance,” Cowley head coach Ruy Vaz said. “The guys were a little bit shaky, but we got the job done. Now we move on and focus on playing at Stryker.”
Coffeyville finishes the season with a record of 9-8-1.
Monday’s scoring started when Cowley’s Sora Funakoshi made a great play on a free ball which he passed over to Mate Kenyeres, who then found sophomore Caique Trivelato open for the first goal. Trivelato’s shot into the upper right corner gave Cowley a 1-0 lead with 17:08 left before halftime.
“Sora is a very crafty player that creates something out of nothing,” Vaz said. “That is the kind of player we need in tight games like this.”
The goal for Trivelato was his team-leading seventh of the season.
Cowley put seven shots on goal in the opening half yet held the slim 1-0 halftime lead.
After several more scoring opportunities were thwarted by Coffeyville, Cowley finally broke through when Kenyeres scored his third goal of the season with just over 26 minutes remaining.
Only four minutes later, the Tigers had its lead cut in half when Coffeyville’s Mario De La Fuente blasted a goal into the upper 90.
Instead of folding under pressure, Cowley responded with the first goal of the season by Tensei Sakaue less than two minutes later as they increased its lead to 3-1.
However, Coffeyville would not go away quietly as they pulled within 3-2 on a goal by Zedan Mutlu with 6:23 left to play.
That would be as close as the Red Ravens would get, as the Tigers did a good job of possessing the ball over the final six minutes.
Cowley will now turn its attention to facing 17th-ranked Neosho County, which the Tigers defeated 2-1 on September 24.
“We need to be mentally strong, minimize our mistakes, and score when we have the opportunity,” Vaz said.
The winner of Thursday night’s game will play Saturday at 8 p.m. in the District Championship match.