Thunderducks progress to finals of NJCAA

The Richland’s  mens soccer team is en route for back-to-back championships by advancing to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) finals at press time.

The Thunderducks beat Herkimer College on Nov. 10 in Herkimer, N.Y in the semifinal game.

The Herkimer Generals had the home field advantage, but the Thunderducks were unfazed. They came out guns-a-blazing from the start with early pressure resulting in a goal after just 44 seconds.

 James Sasay, in hot form, scored from Barrafranca’s cut back.

Twenty minutes later, Sasay with some nimble footwork and ingenuity ran through the Herkimer defense and slotted the ball past their goalkeeper to double the lead for the Thunderducks.

James Sasay drives the ball forward against the Herkimer Generals. He scored two goals.

James Sasay drives the ball forward against the Herkimer Generals. He scored two goals.

The Generals reduced the deficit in the 76th minute, but it was a little too late for a comeback. Three minutes later, Irvin Dominguez was fouled inside the penalty area. Mateo Gutierrez stepped up for Richland and calmly slotted it past Herkimer’s goalkeeper to seal a 3-1 victory and send the Thunderducks to their second national championship game in a row.

Previously, Thunderducks overcame the Ocean County Vikings 2-1 on Nov. 9 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) quarterfinal match in Herkimer, N.Y.

The first half was a show of solid defensive displays by both teams. The pace advanced a bit more in the second half. Ocean County opened up the scoring in the 63rd minute after a Viking headed a whipped cross past the Richland goalkeeper, Elias Munoz. Richland responded 20 minutes later when sophomore Gustavo Lopez scored from a Pierre Barrafranca assist.

The match was still tied at the end of 90 minutes (regular time) and extended into overtime.

The match was heading into a penalty shootout, until, with only 20 seconds left on the clock, Richland’s leading scorer, James Sasay hit an excellent volley into the back of the net to ensure Richland’s progress into the semifinals.

At press time, the Thunderducks are scheduled to play the final game on Nov 11. If they win, they will be champions two years in a row. Follow RLC Thundersports on twitter @thundersports for the score.