Entering a win or go home game facing the nation’s leading scorer is never an easy task. Doing that without seven of your key players makes the task that much harder.
But the Crowder soccer team wasn’t about to make any excuses for their season-ending 1-0 loss to sixth-seeded Metropolitan Community College – Blue River in the first round of the Region 16 Tournament on Saturday. To them, they just didn’t play well enough — perhaps even a little timid, according to coach Brad Smith.
“I think we came on in the last 20 minutes or so and started playing the way we can, but we didn’t come out that way,” Smith said. “Any time you miss some people it affects you, but it shouldn’t have affected us that much. We’re not making any excuses. We’ve had problems the last four, five, six games scoring.”
Indeed, the Roughriders (8-7-1) had a handful of scoring opportunities, mainly late in the second half, but couldn’t find the net. That was in stark contrast to when the Roughriders dominated the Trail Blazers in a 6-2 victory at Crowder on Oct. 9.
“I thought our effort was good, I don’t have any question about that,” Smith said. “I thought (our team) tried to win, tried to do whatever they could do (to win).”
From the onset the Roughriders keyed on Trail Blazers’ standout Paulo Novo, a forward from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who entered the game leading the NJCAA Division 1 ranks in goals-scored this season. While the Roughriders kept Novo away from the net in the first half, he eventually broke through and punched one into the net with 23:54 remaining in the contest.
The Trail Blazers had their work cut out for them in making the lead stick, however. A red card issued in the second half left them playing the remaining 15 minutes of the match a man down. The Roughriders nearly capitalized on the on the carding, but Osman Ba’s deflected shot off the foot of Bruno Maffei just missed its target with 11:22 remaining, and a boot by Tim Collier was brilliantly saved by goalie Austin Prindle with 4:29 remaining.
The Roughriders finished with three shots on goal with the final two coming at the close of the game. The Trail Blazers also had three shots with Prindle turning in three saves.
While the season came to a close earlier than they’d hoped, Smith said this was one of the better teams he’s had at Crowder.