The Western Nebraska Community College men's soccer team needed just one goal and then to play an inspired defense in earning a 1-0 win over NJCAA No. 12 Northeastern Junior College in a Region IX South Conference match at Landers Soccer Complex Wednesday afternoon.,
The win moves WNCC to 8-5 overall and 5-2 in the South conference. NJC, who suffered its first conference defeat, drops to 6-1 in the conference and 12-4-1 overall. NJC came into the contest on a 10-match winning streak and the last time these two teams played, NJC won 6-0.
Wednesday was a different story according to Silvio Xavier, one of 10 sophomores that played their last regular season match at Landers Soccer Complex.
"The game down there we didn't practice hard at all because it was in the middle of the week and we didn't prepare ourselves the way we need to do," Xavier said. "This game was different because we prepared our minds especially for this game and everything was OK. Thank God for that."
Overall, Xavier said it was a win that wanted and needed.
"This was important for us to put our mind into the tournament again and we took a big step in the road to a championship," Xavier said.
"The defense played well today and our centerback scored for us," Xavier said. "I am happy for that."
After that, the two defenses played lights out. Xavier said that one goal was all they needed to win the game.
"We knew we had to play 90 minutes in the game," Xavier said. "We knew in the second half they would come hard toward us. We talked with each other during the halftime break and the defense did a good job."
The defenses pitched shutouts in the second half, but it was WNCC's defense that stepped up big time as late in the match, the Plainsmen had a plethora of scoring opportunities, including three straight corner kicks. NJC also missed a point-blank shot that went high and another time where the Cougar defense thwarted prime scoring opportunities by sending the ball to the midfield line.
WNCC outshot the Plainsmen 12-9. The big difference in the contest was cornerkicks with NJC getting 14 corners to WNCC's one. That didn't matter, though, as the defense thwarted those scoring opportunities.
The WNCC men will wrap up the regular season on Friday when they travel to Columbus to face Central Community College in a Region IX South Conference contest. A win Friday and a NJC loss to Central would give the Cougars and Plainsmen with identical records.
Xavier said they need to build off Wednesday's win.
"We have to play tough and we need a good night sleep because it is a long trip," Xavier said. "But, I hope everything will be OK and we are going to try to bring back a victory."