Raptor Report – MC Men’s Soccer v NOVA Region XX Highlights
Raptor Report – MC Men’s Soccer v NOVA Region XX Highlights


The semi-finals of the NJCAA Region XX men’s
tournament had a real familiar feeling. The MC Raptors, the fourth seed, and the NOVA
Nighthawks, the tournament’s number one seed had just played a week ago to close out the
regular season with the Nighthawks taking it two nil. And this was also a rematch of last year’s
semis, that the Raptors won one nil with a goal in the 86th minute. So these two teams know each other well and
history indicates that it would be a tight match from the opening whistle. And that’s exactly what we got. Defenses and goal keeping were the order of
the day. NOVA with an early opportunity, but MC’s Keeper
Jose Pesoa with the big stop. Ten minutes later, MC with a set piece, Giles
Beven with the on target boot, but Youness Benmouna’s header hits the post. Three minutes later another set piece, Beven
again puts it on the post, but try as he might Alec Jones just can’t break the plane of the
goal. NOVA immediately responded with an attack,
nice run, but Pesoa again there to stop it. Then a few minutes later NOVA mounts another
attack with a pretty thru ball, but look at Andrew Moorman break it up, recover and send
it the other way. MC had their chances too, off a throw in,
Miguel Lopez, is right there, but so is the NOVA Keeper. And so it went as the first forty five minutes
were scoreless. The second half followed a similar pattern,
NOVA with an early attack, but Pesoa with the gutsy move to flick away a near goal. Then MC with a set piece, Beven’s kick is
on the mark again, but somehow the Raptors can’t get it to go and we remain scoreless. Two minutes later, Benmouna from outside the
eighteen, but his rocket is tantalizingly close. MC actually had the upper hand the entire
second half, but the frustration continued to build, Pa Keluntang, just wide here. So after ninety minutes of heart stopping
action, we went to overtime with no score. Habits are hard to break, so naturally both
overtimes followed the same pattern; defense and goal keeping dominated as the teams played
ten more tense, scoreless minutes. In the second OT period, more of the same
and so after 90 minutes and two overtimes, it was going to come down to the drama and
agony of Penalty Kicks. Penalty Kicks are a lonely way to end a match,
both the striker and the keeper are alone, on a virtual island, one false step by either
and that could decide it. MC went first and Youness Benmouna did his
job. NOVA’s Gabriel Rickman answered, one, one. Francisco Mangue was next and he calmly delivered. Mohammed Alkaladi used a hesitation move to
tie it at two each. Pressure building now, The Raptors Tomas Diana
follows with a blast to make it 3-2 MC. But Everton Bailey makes Pesoa guess wrong
and he ties it at 3. Giles Beven up next and he makes quick work
of it; 4-3 Raptors. But NOVA’s Cristian Fuentes does the same
4-4. Next Raptor on the island, Pa Keluntang and
he adds a change-up to the mix to make it 5-4 Raptors. But Trent Dobbins answers for the Nighthawks,
five-five now. Then it was Alec Jones turn for MC, he tried
a stutter step, but his shot goes wide and now you know why this is such a cruel way
to end a match. A match that had been a battle of wills. And when Andrew Bailey followed by finding
the back of the net, one team celebrates; while the other is devastated. And so for the young Raptors, the curtain
comes crashing down on a terrific season, they finish 16-6-1 and with almost the entire
team back next year, they will again, no doubt, be challenging for a Regional title and a
trip to the 2019 Nationals. For the Raptor Report, I’m Michael Brown

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