Daytona Beach, FL- Marshalltown CC's Men's Soccer squad came up big when they needed to on Monday night against Cowley County CC (KS). The teams met in Pool D of the NJCAA Division I Men's Soccer National Championship, MCC as the four seed and Cowley as the ninth seed. Freshman Kazuki Kimura would emerge as the hero, netting a goal in each half to carry the Marshalltown Tigers to victory, earning them a crucial three points in pool play.
Because of both squads featured defenses, goals were going to be at a premium during the match. Through the first 15 minutes, MCC would dominate possession however could not capitalize on some golden opportunities because of a series of offside calls. In the 26th minute, everything would change as sophomore Rafael Vacas would find a streaking Kimura with a through ball. Kimura collected the ball about thirty yards out, was able to beat the Cowley keeper and helped himself to an open net and his tenth goal of the season.
The Cowley Tigers would try to retaliate soon after seeing several offensive opportunities, none of which they would be able to capitalize on. Multiple MCC fouls would lead to a variety of set pieces in which the Tigers would welcome the challenge and deny in various fashions. The half would end with a score of 1-0.
It appeared that the Tigers would change their approach in the second half, being somewhat more cautious on the offensive front and seemed content keeping the ball in the midfield. MCC's defense would continue to make big plays to stifle Cowley's attack. Cowley's offensive pressure allowed for opportunities for the MCC Tigers in transition, one that they capitalized on in the 69th minute. Still on the MCC side of midfield, freshman Augusto Cunha played a through ball to Kimura which looked eerily similar to his goal in the first half. Instead of coming out to challenge Kimura, the Cowley goalie held his position, but Kimura was still able to find the bottom right hand corner of the net for his second goal of the game, and 11th of the season. The assist was Cunha's third of the year after being sidelined the majority of the season due to an injury.
Cowley's offense refused to give up and the MCC defense would be tested several times over the final 20 minutes of the match. Meeting the challenge head on, the Tiger defense would hold on for its 13th shutout of the season. Sophomore goalkeeper Joel Serrano would end with four saves against ten total shots.
The win puts the MCC Tigers in the driver's seat of Pool D. The tournament format features a four, three team pool structure in which the teams earn points throughout their pool play matches, three points for a win, zero points for a loss. Fellow Pool D teams Eastern Florida State College and Cowley will faceoff tomorrow at 5PM EST while the Tigers enjoy a day off. The MCC Tigers are back in action on Wednesday, November 14th at 5PM EST. The winner of Pool D advances to the final four, which starts Friday, November 16th.