One goal could've change the course of the Cyclones' second and last game yesterday at the NJCAA Division I championship. Instead, they were shut out to end their run.
For the second day, the Cyclones dealt with rainy and even windier conditions, having to play into the wind for the first half. Despite these setbacks, they knew they would be facing a scoring powerhouse in the Monroe Community College Tribunes. The two faced each other Nov. 3 in the North Central District championship to determine who would compete at nationals. The Cyclones battled hard in the 2-1 loss. They were able to score seconds before halftime to give them momentum. That's all they needed in this rematch.
This game by all appearances seemed different from their first meeting, but played out similarly. The Cyclones had many more chances to score than the previous day against Tyler Junior College, but could not hit the net. The Tribunes scored on a breakaway after 15 minutes and then again five minutes later. Veronika Stafira was fierce and shot one off the post, narrowly missing a scoring chance. In the minutes that followed, the Tribunes scored three more times to go up 5-0 at halftime.
"I think they only had about four more shots than us throughout the game. The difference was they were able to capitalize on their chances early, and we weren't. At that point, we had to chase, and it left many gaps in our backline that they were able to exploit. At 2-0, we had a golden opportunity in which we hit the post. If we were able to score, it would have been 2-1, and we would have had all the momentum and energy to find the next goal. Instead, we missed, they go down and score to make it 3-0. That was it. It's very mentally tough to overcome 3-0 after playing 90 minutes the day before," said head Coach Al Palar.
Even with a fighting spirit from the Cyclones in the second half, the gaps allowed one more goal to seal the 6-0 loss.
"If Veronika's shot goes in instead of hitting the post, the game would have been completely different. It would have been 2-1, and we would have had all the momentum and adrenaline running through us to finish the game strong just like last week," Palar said. "We were defeated by a better team today. They are not 6-0 better than us, but when you have special players like they do in front of goal, they don't miss many opportunities. I'm happy with the effort, but not our performance."