For the first time since 2011, the Trojans men's soccer team is advancing to the NWAC Quarter-Finals. It would take an incredible effort on the road 317 miles from campus and down a goal early to persevere but this 2019 squad was up for the challenge.
The opponent was the Lane Community College Titans from Eugene, OR, who finished the regular season as the #2 seed in the South Region with a 5-2-6 overall record. Entering the match the Titans and Trojans had not faced each other yet this season however they did have two similar opponents in Skagit Valley College and Southwestern Oregon. Lane faced Skagit Valley in a non conference game that resulted in a 1-1 tie, and then matched up with Southwestern Oregon twice during their conference schedule and came away with a 2-1 loss and a 0-0 tie. Comparatively Everett came away with a 4-3 win over Southwestern Oregon 4-3 early in the season and against the conference foe Skagit Valley chalked up a win, a loss, and a tie in three meetings.
Statistically the Trojan offense had the edge, averaging 12.1 shots and 1.90 goals per game compared to Lane's 8.5 shots and 1.46 goals per game, however Lane had one of the top defenses in the league, giving up just 0.96 goals per game on the season to Everett's 1.41 goals. Perhaps the largest differnce maker in this match was Everett's experience, entering the match with a 12-5-3 overall record for a total of 20 matches, eight of which were against Top 8 ranked NWAC teams while Lane had only played 13 matches on the season and just two against ranked opponents.
Despite the perceived advantages for EvCC, the home team struck quickly with a goal just six minutes into the match. Down a goal early and facing one of the best defenses in the NWAC, the Trojans needed to regain compusure quickly and rely on their high powered offense to get them back into match.
The equalizing goal would come for Everett 17 minutes later into the match and was set up by freshman Manuel Segura's cross to the far post after beating two Lane defenders and finding the head of sophomore Gerardo Lopez who scored his 1st goal on the season (4th of his career).
With 12 minutes to play in the half, Everett would not be satisfied with the tie and struck again in the 33rd minute, again set up by Manuel Segura who sent a beautiful pass to the middle of the box, this time finding Jacob Woodward who sent a low right footed shot past the goalkeeper for his 4th goal on the season, and sending Everett into the half time break with a 2-1 lead.
Similar to the the start of the first half, Lane came out with intent to score and nearly tied the game three minutes into the second half, but a diving save from sophomore goalkeeper Cameron Beardsley thwarted any hopes of a quick goal for the Titans. From that moment, the Trojan defense tightened up, and did not allow another shot on goal for the remainder of the game.
The goal that sealed the 3-1 victory for Everett came in the 83rd minute and was set up by who else, Manuel Segura for his third assist of the match and 10th of the season. Segura found sophomore Owen Padilla just outside the top of the box who controlled the pass and sent a hard low shot to the right post past the goalkeeper. It would be Owen's first goal on the season and Segura's 10th assist currently ranks 1st among all assist leaders in the NWAC as well as sets a new EvCC record for the most assists in a single season.
For 4th year head coach Erik Cruz, this is his third straight year taking the team to the playoffs, but his first playoff win as a head coach (Erik was an assistant coach for the 2014 women's team that won the NWAC Championship).
The Trojans will advance to the Quarter-Finals again having to play on the road, heading to Pasco, WA to face the #1 seed in the East Region, Columbia Basin College. Kick off is set for Saturday at 1pm and will be streamed live on cbchawks.com.