TJC wins regional soccer title

Coastal Bend College's (7) Randy Martinez stays close as Tyler Junior College's (10) Ricardo Gomez dribbles the ball at TJC Saturday afternoon Oct. 31, 2015. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

On a chilly Halloween night, the Tyler Junior College men's soccer team rolled a lucky seven at Pat Hartley Soccer Complex.

The Apaches scored a 3-1 win over Coastal Bend on Saturday to capture the Region XIV championship for the seventh straight year.

TJC (14-3) won its ninth consecutive game, advancing to the District South Tournament Nov. 6 and 7 in Pearl River, Mississippi. The Apaches will play Hinds (Mississippi) in the district semifinals on Friday. The other semifinal has Pearl River facings either San Jacinto or Paris on Friday. San Jac and Paris play on Sunday to determine the representative.

The semifinal winners will play on Saturday with the winner advancing to the national tournament Nov. 16-21 at the Smith River Sports Complex in Axton, Virginia.

"We played fairly well," said TJC coach Steve Clements, whose team is the defending national champion. "We gave up a cheap goal there, but overall we played well."

The Apaches dominated the first half of the match maintaining control of the ball and getting several shots off. In the 22nd minute, Ricardo Gomez, a sophomore from Gainesville, Georgia, sent a shot past the jumping Cougars' goalie to find the top right corner of the net. Brendan O'Connor, a sophomore from Brandon, Florida, assisted on the play.

Less than a minute later, teammate Yazeed Matthews, a freshman from Johannesburg, South Africa, scored a goal to put TJC up 2-0 going into halftime. Kevin Gilbert, a freshman from Orgeres, France, assisted.

TJC outshot Coastal Bend 13-1 in the first half.

Coming out of halftime, Coastal Bend looked like a new team playing more aggressively and pushed TJC's defense.

Ten minutes into the second half, Matthews found himself in front of the goal. After going one-on-one with the goalie, he kicked the ball into the back of the net scoring his second goal of the night. Rooby Dalusma, a freshman from Douglasville, Georgia, assisted on the play.

Trailing by three, the Cougars tried to claw back late in the match with Coastal Bend scoring its lone goal in the 73rd minute off the foot of Charlie Payne. That would be the last goal of the match and ended Coastal Bend's playoff hopes.

This was the Apaches' 14th regional championship.

Tyler will be seeking its seventh straight trip to the national tournament. The Apaches have appeared in 10 national tournaments and have captured four national championships.

Besides the 2014 crown, TJC also won titles in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

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