Entering their fourth consecutive NJCAA championship, the Cyclones knew what level of competition to expect. They faced that and then some in the opening match of the tournament against defending champs, Tyler Junior College.
The Cyclones, seeded 12th, were in Pool A and pitted first against the reigning champion Apaches. They knew they needed to hold a tight defense against this powerhouse. With rain and wind pushing toward keeper Patricia Rzadkosz in the first half, the Apaches struck quickly, scoring within the opening two minutes of play.
A strong defense by the Apaches gave little wiggle room for the Cyclones to get close to their net, as striker Veronika Stafira had at least two opportunities. The Apaches got their second and third goals off some uncharacteristic errors in play by the Cyclones within the next 25 minutes to go up 3-0 at halftime.
The second half saw a tighter Cyclone defense and a few more scoring chances. With only one major scramble at the net, and a number of saves by Rzadkosz, Moraine Valley allowed one more goal for the 4-0 loss.
"When you get to this level, where you are up against the absolute top teams in the country, you cannot make as many mistakes as we did and get away with it. I'm happy with the effort overall from the majority of the group, but very upset with the lack of concentration and mistakes we made in the back. They are faster, stronger and more athletic than we are, and I expected that. But I definitely did not expect us to make the mistakes we made. Just have to regroup and perform better tomorrow," said head Coach Al Palar.
Moraine Valley faces Monroe Community College in a rematch tomorrow, Nov. 13, at 10 a.m. CT.