Regional title hopes fall short

Bailey Ayres, Sports Editor

A shoot-out victory gave the Madison College men’s soccer team its first shot at a regional title since 2008, but those hopes were dashed by a three-goal performance by a Harper College freshmen.

Harper College’s Ricky Choi provided all of his team’s scoring in a 3-1 victory against Madison College in the NJCAA Region IV Division III Championship, played at Warner Park on Oct. 22.
With the loss, Madison College finished the season 14-2-2, it’s best record since finishing 15-1-1 in 2007. Harper College advanced to the District C Championship Tournament.

“We made history, we reached the regional final, despite losing, had one of the best records the school has had under Coach (Corey) Sims,” said midfielder Jake Andrews. “We just achieved so much, and being together for the short three months that we had, and to achieve all of that, I think shows an amazing amount of commitment, dedication, and hard work.”

“In the short time that we have as a soccer team, the amount that we have grown together as a team, and individually, and how much we have come together is unbelievable,” said Andrews. “I wouldn’t have wanted to take this journey with any other group of guys. Everybody was on the same page, everybody wanted the same thing or the same goal, and that was to win. And we achieved that, we won this season and had a great year, none of the team could of asked for anything more.”

Madison College fans had reason to be excited early in the regional championship when Ryan Henry scored of an assist by Jake Andrews a little more than 10 minutes into the game. It was Henry’s ninth goal of the season.

With less than eight minutes left before halftime, Harper College tied it up on a goal by Choi. He then scored the go-ahead goal 15 minutes into the second half and a final goal in the game’s closing minutes.

Madison College and Harper College played three close matches this season. The WolfPack won the first and tied in the second before falling in the playoffs. The loss was the first time this season Madison College allowed an opponent to score more than two goals.

A series of penalty kicks sent Madison College into the regional championship game after the team outlasted Rock Valley College on Oct. 19 at Breese Stevens Field.

The teams played to a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation play. When two overtime periods failed to produce a goal, the match went to a shootout.

In the first round of penalty kicks, Madison College’s Ryan Henry, Toby Andrews, Jake Andrews, Christian Munoz and Bobby Beaudet all converted on their penalty kicks, as did their five Rock Valley counterparts.

So the game went to sudden death penalty kicks.

Madison College freshman Zach Blair stepped up first, drilling a perfect shot into the lower left corner of the goal. When Rock Valley’s attempt bounced off the crossbar, the WolfPack and their fans began a victory celebration.

During regulation play, Rock Valley scored first at just over 16 minutes into the match.

Madison College tied the game when Bachirou Lo scored his 10th goal of the season off of a pass from Blair nearly 40 minutes into the match.

Jose Barron got a red card 10 minutes into the second half, forcing his team to play a man down, but Jake Andrews gave the WolfPack a lead with a goal in the 67th minute.

Still, they were unable to hold the lead. Rock Valley scored to tie the game in the 82nd minute.

Six Madison College players received all-region honors this season. Toby Andrews, Jake Andrews, Ryan Henry and Juan Martinez were named to the first team, while Jose Barron and Christian Munoz were named to the second team.