It was a cold and rainy day during the NJCAA Region 16 semifinal matchup for East Central College (7-5-4) against Crowder College (13-4-1) played on turf at Monnet High School. The Falcons went into the game with confidence and a game plan to negate some of the taller Crowder College players who at 6’5″ and 6’7″ towered over the ECC players. After a 3-1 loss earlier in the season, the game plan had changed for the Falcons.
The first half went well and both teams were denied during the few scoring opportunities. The ball was skipping due to the wet turf, but it didn’t hamper play too much.
In the 62nd minute Crowder scored on a headed free kick. At first the goal was disallowed because of an offsides call from the assistant referee. The assistant referee deliberated with head official for a few minutes and then the goal was allowed. This got the team fired up and then the ECC attack started. Leo Sowa was fouled about 22 yards from their goal and was awarded a free kick. Arman Kovac, 15th goal of the season, took the free kick with his left foot and blew it past the Crowder keeper who didn’t even react much to the shot. The team went crazy with excitement and were ready for more. The game kept a good pace and Crowder then started playing some long balls that resulted in corner kicks. ECC players, Guy Baskerville, Liam Durran, Sam Marchi and Gabriel Pires defended well and weathered the Crowder attack the best they could despite the conditions
Overtime started better for the Falcons. Blake Little was on a yellow from the 20th minute and was avoiding getting a red card the best he could while still playing hard right to the end of the match. The second overtime, ECC started to wear down and dropped into a defensive alignment to hold out the Roughriders.
The game officially ended in a tie 1-1. Crowder was credited with a 4-1 penalty kick advancement. Arman Kovac was the only player to make his penalty kick out of the three ECC penalty kick shooters.
The team was upset with the loss, but used good sportsmanship at the end of the match. Crowder will face St. Louis for the championship game of Region 16 as they knocked of Jefferson College in the other semifinal 2-1.