It proved to be a split decision for the Lewis and Clark Community College Trailblazers in a pair of national soccer tournaments Tuesday.
The men defeated Hill County of Hillsboro, Texas, 2-1, in overtime at the NJCAA Division I finals in Martinsville, Va., while the women lost to Laramie County College, 3-1, in the D-1 finals at Melbourne, Fla.
Blake Cearns scored the game-winning goal at the 97th minute to send the 18-3-1 Trailblazers past Hill in pool play. Lochlan Reus assisted on the winner.
Reus scored on a direct kick at the 24th minute mark to give the Trailblazers a 1-0 lead. Then Chris Escalera of Hill tied it with 1:25 remaining in regulation.
LCCC goalie Nick Johnson made some acrobatic saves to keep Hill off the board in overtime. Cearns then punched home the winning shot.
“I was relieved to see the ball hit the net,” Cearns said. “It felt really good to celebrate with everyone after they rushed the field.”
The ’Blazers are scheduled to play Pima, Ariz., at 6 p.m. tonight. Pima lost its opener. If LCCC prevails, it will advance to the national semifinals.
LCCC grabbed a 1-0 lead against Laramie County of Cheyenne, Wyo., but the winners responded with three consecutive goals to snare the victory in pool play.
Nicole Howard logged the lone goal for the 16-5-2 Trailblazers. Cassidy Foley had the assist. The Trailblazers resume play at 11:30 a.m. today against Iowa Community College. If LCCC wins, it will continue playing in the nationals. If the Trailblazers lose, they will return home.
“We are going to come out and play the best we can Wednesday, “LCCC coach Tim Rooney said. “If we can win by three goals, we can still win our bracket. Our backs are against the wall and we know that, but we are going to go out and do the best we can.”