The Crowder Roughriders finished 11-7-1 overall and runner-up in Region 16, coming the closest ever to the school’s first regional title in soccer.
Not a bad start for the program under the direction of head coach Steven Harrison.
“This season brought a lot of new things with the soccer program here as a whole,” Harrison said. “The kids bought in from Day 1 on and off the field and I really appreciated that. We have got a lot of comments from the public, Crowder staff and even the other programs we played about how the soccer program here acted different on and off the field and that’s a great thing to hear as a coach. We want to set a standard from Day 1 on how to act on and off the field and we want to reach that standard every day.
“On the field, every loss we had was by one goal except for the first St. Louis game. We need to learn how to win those games and next season could be special if we continue to improve and we mix in a few new recruits.
“The biggest thing we need to work on is finishing our chances. We missed a lot of good, quality looks on goal that cost us a few wins, but hopefully we finish everything next season.
“I would like to thank the Crowder family and the Neosho public for their support this past season and I hope to see them at future games.”
The ‘Riders reached the Region 16 title game after playoff wins against East Central (1-0) and Jefferson (4-2), both teams Crowder lost to during the regular season. Crowder started playing its best soccer near the end of the regular season and continued that during the postseason.
“The start of our season was up and down,” Harrison said. “A lot of that was we had a lot of new players, but we competed in every game. In October, we really started to play well and that is always important heading into the Region playoffs. It was good to see and the guys deserved to finish like we did and compete for the Region 16 tournament title.”
In the title match, Crowder pushed a nationally-ranked opponent, St. Louis, to the edge before the Archers came out with a 2-1 victory.
The ‘Riders and the Archers had played each other just 14 days before and St. Louis blanked Crowder 4-0 in a match that was moved from the all-grass Roughrider Soccer Field to the all-turf David Haffner Stadium at Carthage High.
“The first time we played St. Louis was probably the worst performance we had all season and that wasn’t the team to do that against,” Harrison said. “The championship was a great game and we had a lot of chances to win especially in the second half. The big play was that St. Louis scored their first goal with one second left in the first half which can never happen.”
Crowder sophomores Tyrique Lake, Lucas Melli, Phillips Gomez, Evandro Conceicao, Francisco Reyes, David Portilla, Cesar Somoza, and Augusto Prado gave the team leadership.
“When I took over this job I did a lot of evaluation during the spring season and I decided who I wanted to bring back and I thought who would help our program,” Harrison said. “I brought back just a few sophomores and they really helped this fall. We started 8-9 freshman each game, but the sophomores that did play really helped us especially in the back four. I appreciate them because they didn’t come to Crowder when I was the coach, but hopefully they enjoyed playing under me and now my main goal for them is to get them to play at the four-year level.”
Crowder’s freshmen included leading scorers Daniel Doherty, Danny Lindo, and Salvador Gonzalez and goalkeepers Santiago Garcia and Andres Aldaco.
“The freshman learned a lot of stuff early and it showed in our up and down results early in the season,” Harrison said. “Once they learned the speed of play and the difference at this level, our results started to change. We hope to have a lot of the freshmen back and next season could be really special. This spring is very important to keep developing these guys on and off the field and heading into the summer break ready for the 2019 fall season.”
Conceicao and Doherty both earned all-Region 16 first team honors after the season.
“Evandro was a rock as a left back for us and scored some important goals for us,” Harrison said. “He has a great future ahead of him as a person off the field and also playing at the four-year level. Daniel missed two weeks of the season with a knee injury, but still scored a lot of big goals for us and if he can keep building off this season he will be a big time player in our region next season.”
Doherty led Crowder with eight goals and five assists, despite missing five matches, and Conceicao finished with six goals and three assists.
Lindo finished second on the team with seven goals and Gonzalez tied Conceicao for third with six goals. Sebastain Smeed led with seven assists. Garcia made 61 and Aldaco 46 saves in goal.
2018 CROWDER RESULTS
11-7-1 overall record
6-0-1 home, 4-6 away, 1-1 neutral
Aug. 22 — at Johnson County, 2-1 L (OT)
Aug. 29 — vs. Murray State, 5-2 W
Sept. 1 — at Rose State, 7-6 L
Sept. 4 — vs. Eastern Oklahoma, 5-0 W
Sept. 13 — vs. Central Baptist, 1-0 W
Sept. 15 — vs. State Fair, 1-1 T (2 OT)
Sept. 18 — at Neosho County, 2-1 L (OT)
Sept. 23 — at East Central, 1-0 L
Sept. 25 — vs. MCC, 4-1 W
Sept. 27 — vs. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, 3-2 W (OT)
Oct. 1 — at Murray State, 1-0 W
Oct. 3 — vs. Oklahoma Wesleyan JV, 5-1 W
Oct. 6 — at Jefferson, 4-2 L
Oct. 11 — vs. NEO, 5-0 W
Oct. 13 — vs. St. Louis, 4-0 L
Oct. 16 — at St. Charles, 4-1 W
Oct. 20 — vs. East Central, 1-0 W
Oct. 23 — at Jefferson, 4-2 W (2 OT)
Oct. 27 — at St. Louis, 2-1 L