The NJCAA Division 1 Men’s Soccer National Championships began today in Tyler, Texas. Pool play began today at Pat Hartley Field with four games today. There will be four games Tuesday and Wednesday before the semi-finals on Friday and the championship game on Saturday.
In the first game of the tournament, number one seed Iowa Western took on number twelve seed Ranger College. Ranger College put up a fight keeping their defense strong to hold Iowa Western scoreless through the first half. However, Iowa Western broke open in the second half with two goals by Elias Hatungimana in the 64th minute and the 86th minute to earn a 2-0 lead. Iowa Western will play at 10 a.m. on Wednesday and Ranger College will play at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
The second game pitted number ten seed Cloud County Community College against third seed San Jacinto College South. San Jacinto pulled ahead early in the match scoring in the 8th minute with a goal from Jose Seoane. Both teams were aggressive on the ball early in the match. San Jacinto had many shots on goal which eventually led to another goal, this time a header from Call Casarez. Coming out of halftime, Cloud County looked to redeem themselves and fight back. In the 56th minute, freshman forward Daniel Sanchez found the back of the net to make the score 2-1. But San Jacinto changed the momentum of the game two minutes later. Jose Seoane added his second goal of the match in the 58th minute to give San Jacinto a two-goal lead. Cloud County scored with a chip shot over the goalie’s head by Gefte Blanc but San Jacinto added one more goal in the 78th by Pablo Vazquez to seal the win 4-2. Cloud County Community College will play at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday and San Jacinto College South will play at 12:30 p.m.m on Wednesday.
Game three saw number four seed Yavapai College take on ninth seed Burlington County Community College. The first 20 minutes of the match were played mainly in the middle of the field without either side getting many shots off. It wasn’t until the 23rd minute that Burlington scored off the foot of Kevin Cueva. The next 66 minutes passed without any goals even though both teams got numerous shots off. It looked as if Burlington was going to walk away with the win but Yavapai fought back to score a goal in the last two minutes of the match. A foul gave Yavapai a free kick. Sophomore attacker Milan Popovic took the shot and sent the ball to the back of the net tying the game. At the end of regulation, both teams went to penalty kicks to decide the winner of the match. Both teams made the first three kicks while missing the fourth and fifth kicks. In a sudden death situation, Yavapai came out on top with goalkeeper Bradley Trella blocking Burlington’s kick sending the bench into a frenzy as the team rushed the field to celebrate their win. Burlington County Community College will play at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and Yavapai Community College will play at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
The final game of the day pitted number eleven seed CCBC-Essex against number two seed Tyler Junior College. Both teams were aggressive out of the gate with several fouls being called but TJC was first on the board. In the 20th minute, freshman forward Nazeem Bartman sent the ball to the back of the net from 20 yards out to put the Apaches ahead. That would be the last goal of the half. Coming out of halftime, the crowd was very vocal as penalties were called out including several yellow cards against CCBC. A foul in the 62nd minute gave TJC another chance to score but the free kick was wide to the left side of the net. With strong defense on the pitch, scoring chances were not easy to come by as both goalies made several leaping grabs in the net to prevent goals. It looked as though TJC would keep the score where it was until CCBC tied the match late in the game. Freshman forward Shawn Geary struck in the 84th minute to tie the game and silence the TJC bench. However, the tides quickly turned. One minute later, a foul was called on CCBC which led to a free kick for TJC. Sophomore midfielder Fernando Castellanos made the free kick sending the Apaches’ sideline into a frenzy. TJC held on to take the match 2-1. CCBC-Essex will play at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Tyler Junior College will play at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.