Thunderducks advance to Nationals in bid to retain title

The district finals of the 2017 college soccer competition had different strokes for the men and women’s soccer teams of Richland College. While the men’s team trounced their opponent 7-0, the women’s team lost 2-0 to their longtime rivals, Brookhaven College.

The men’s soccer team beat Triton College to advance to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championship. The women’s soccer team loss ended their run for the national championship. The women’s team finished second in the District F regional tournament.

Building up to the match against Triton, Richland remained on top of the NJCAA Division III Men’s Soccer rankings. After a 7-2 thrashing of Mountain View College, Richland has remained unmoved as the No.1-ranked Div. III college soccer program in the country since the start of the 2017 season.

The opening nine minutes of the game against Triton was a tensely contested affair until the 10th minute when Richland broke the deadlock. Sophomore Irvin Dominguez started the build-up play and rounded-up the slick passing move when he pounced on a drilled cross from freshman Sergio Gonzalez to give the Thunderducks a lead to the excitement of the home crowd. Thirteen minutes later the T-Ducks doubled the lead. James Sasay, with the tenacity and speed that characterizes his game, ran down from the opposition’s half of the field to chase down a loose ball in midfield and lay it up for Erwin Regules. Regules split a pass in between the two central defenders for Triton; Sasay raced from his own half ahead of the chaotic Triton defense, took a touch to cushion the ball and deftly chipped it over the onrushing goalkeeper. His blistering pace and strength were too much for the Trojans of Triton to handle. Sasay would score two more goals, taking his tally up to 23 goals in 13 games for the season.

Erwin Regules, Joshua Peloquin and Gustavo Lopez all scored to cap up an impressive game and crown Richland the District C champions.

Following the win Richland’s captain, sophmore Mateo Gutierrez expressed his happiness. “It was a hard game in beginning, but we played the best game ever this season.” Gutierrez is optimistic that Richland can retain their title. “Last season we had really good players. This year too, we have a lot of possibilities.”

Gutierrez’s focus right now is solely on the Nationals, but once the season is finished, he intends to further his collegiate career at a Division I four-year college.

Coach Sean Worley was also pleased with the win. He said, “We are happy and looking forward to going to New York.”