By: Joe Jacqeuz
With the Region I Playoff Tournament quickly approaching, both men’s and women’s T-Birds Soccer were looking for big wins to stay in the playoff race on Thursday night.
Its not every night that you get to host the no.1 ranked team in the nation, but that is exactly what T-Birds Men’s soccer did, welcoming Yavapai College to John D. Riggs Stadium.
Coming into the game, the Roughriders were 13-0-1, and had outscored their opponents 68-3.
Yavapai found itself in a battle with a well-coached Mesa team that doesn’t given in to pressure.
The Roughriders got on the board first scoring in the 24th minute on a goal from freshman Guillermo Diaz. The assist went to freshman George Douglas.
Despite having a 1-0 lead heading into the first half, Yavapai only outshot the Thunderbirds 6-5, and it was a defensive struggle for most of the half. The Roughriders only shot on goal was the one that went in.
The second half was dominated by defense and superb goalkeeping by Mesa goalie Carlos Becerra, and Yavapai goalie Bradley Trella.
The Roughriders added a meaningless goal with 2.5 seconds to go on a long kick by Diaz. Yavapai beat Mesa 2-0 to improve to 14-0.
The score doesn’t really indicate how close the game actually was.
T-Birds head coach Timothy Barmettler commented on his team’s effort on offense.
“Offensively we actually got in quite a bit, and had a lot of looks, we just didn’t finish very well again, but we got looks against a really good team. I was happy with the number of shots we had, I just wasn’t happy with the number of goals we had.”
Coach Barmettler also talked about his goalkeeper and defense.
“He played great today, he had good feet, he communicated well, made some good saves. I thought the defense did phenomenal too.”
The T-Birds are 7-6, which is good for 6th place in the ACCAC standings with seven games to go. Coach Barmettler talked about what it’s going to take for his team to make the playoffs:
“We’ve got to start scoring some goals…we got to get out of this slump and take care of the teams that are below us in the standings.”
Meanwhile the Women’s team is also looking to get back into the Region I playoffs, and quite simply they need every win they can get. That started on Thursday night against the Cochise Apaches.
The majority of play in the first half took place in the middle of the field, and there was no score after one half.
The second half featured more of the same as Mesa goalkeeper Danielle Torres, and Cochise goalkeeper Diana Medrano stopped every opportunity.
The two teams were still scoreless after the second half. That meant the Lady T-Birds would play their fifth overtime game of the season.
Mesa had a golden opportunity in the first OT when sophomore Ana Morris managed to slip a shot past a diving Merdano, but the shot barely missed the left post and the game remained tied.
The two teams would need to play a second overtime. Forty-five seconds into the second OT Cochise’s Taylor Kruse scored an easy goal thanks to a defensive mistake by the T-Birds and the Apaches won 1-0.
This game was a tough one to swallow for the ladies. After the game, Coach Guarneri talked about his team’s effort:
“I thought the effort was good, some of our decision making has to get better. Either team could have won that game, we both had chances in the regulation, and unfortunately for us they stuck the one away in overtime.”
Guarneri talked about his team’s opportunities.
“We had several opportunities that we could have done a little better with, but the girls are putting in the effort, they’re working hard, they’re getting themselves in the right spots, and that is half the battle,” Guarneri said. “We are as good as anybody in the conference but were also as bad as anybody in the conference all at the same time.”
With the loss, Mesa fell to 5-4-4. They hosted Gateway on Saturday, and will play Scottsdale on Tuesday night at John D. Riggs Stadium.