MELBOURNE, Fla. - As part of their preparation for the 2017 NJCAA Women’s Soccer National Championship tournament, the No. 2 Tyler Junior College Apache Ladies played 11 of the top 20 teams in the country.
Well, the Apache Ladies sure hit the ground running in Monday’s first day of pool play at Eastern Florida State College, racing out to a 4-1 first half lead before eventually defeating No. 11 Cloud County (Kansas) Community College 5-1.
“There were times when we didn’t look good, but overall, we got it done,” Tyler head coach Corey Rose said. “I was a little worried about (Cloud County). They’ve got some dangerous players.”
Jullia Trabach scored twice to lead Tyler (21-1), which also got some outstanding play in goal from Andrea Neves, who played a big role in helping swing the momentum of the contest in favor of Tyler.
Just three minutes into the game, Cloud County was awarded a penalty kick only to have Neves make a huge save.
Then three minutes later, Tyler’s Hitomi Konna scored off an assist from Akane Tekada to give the Apaches a 1-0 lead.
“Tyler is phenomenal,” Cloud County coach James Ross said. “But you miss a penalty kick (three) minutes into the game, and then they go right back down and score, that’s a two-goal swing.
“That can’t happen.”
After Konno put the Apaches on top 1-0, Trabach got the first of her two goals on an assist from Katelyn Renfro.
Cloud County’s Joana Vollanova would then convert the second penalty kick of the half for the Thunderbirds to cut the lead in half, only to see Tyler close out the first 40 minutes with a flourish.
After Trabach made it 3-1 on her penalty kick try, Renfro found the back of the net for Tyler to make it a 4-1 game.
Lina Gomez scored the lone goal in the second half to put the Apaches up by four goals.
Neves had another big save in the second half for Tyler, getting a hand on a Cloud County shot to tip it over the goal.
“That was a big part of the game,” Rose said of Neves’ big saves. “(Neves) has been solid. That was a point of emphasis for us this year.”
Trabach, who is from Vila Velha, Brazil, thought the Apache Ladies got just what they needed out of their first game of pool play.
“We played very good and what counted was our playing as a team,” Trabach said through an interpreter. “We played very good as a team. Everybody played very good, like our coach wanted us to. Everybody fight for their life for this game.”
The Apache Ladies, who are seeking what would be their third national championship, have certainly put themselves in a strong position to be considered serious contenders this season.
“We came (here) very confident because we’ve been practicing for a lot of weeks,” Trabach said. “We’re practicing and focusing on this tournament now, because our goal is to win this, of course.
“We’re a very good team. We just have to keep focusing on everything.”
The Apache Ladies will return to action on Wednesday when they play Harford (Maryland) Community College at 11:30 a.m. (CST).
Cloud County will face Harford CC on Tuesday, also at 11:30 a.m.
NJCAA Division I Women’s National Soccer Tournament
Pool A - Phoenix 2, Georgia Military 1
Pool B - Tyler 5, Cloud County (Kansas) 1
Pool C - Laramie County (Wyoming) 6, Moraine Valley (Illinois) 0
Pool D - Eastern Florida State 4, Iowa Western 0
Pool A - Georgia Military vs. Lewis & Clark (Illinois), 9 a.m.
Pool B - Cloud County vs. Harford (Maryland), 11:30 a.m.
Pool C - Moraine Valley vs. ASA Brooklyn (New York), 2 p.m.
Pool D - Iowa Western vs. Schoolcraft (Michigan), 4:30 p.m.
Pool A - Lewis & Clark vs. Phoenix, 9 a.m.
Pool B - Tyler vs. Harford, 11:30 a.m.
Pool C - ASA Brooklyn vs. Laramie County, 2 p.m.
Pool D - Schoolcraft vs. Eastern Florida State, 4:30 p.m.