Trinity men’s soccer took to the road this past weekend and clinched the top seed in the SCAC tournament with a 1-1 draw at Colorado College and a 1-0 victory at the University of Dallas.
The team rebounded from an early deficit in Colorado Springs to score with 13 minutes left in regulation, courtesy of junior midfielder Yuri Ribeiro’s 13th goal of the season which gives him the most on the team. The Tigers only allowed three shots in the second half and two overtime periods to preserve the draw.
In Dallas, the defense stayed strong, preserving a shutout while senior forward Alan Castillejos knocked home a goal early in the second half to give the Tigers a victory and the regular season SCAC title. Thus, the Tigers will be the top seed and have a first-round bye for the SCAC tournament.
“It’s big time. Being at home and the number one seed means we control our own destiny. If we win out, we’re in the NCAA tournament. The first-round bye is also nice because we will only have to win two games instead of three,” Castillejos said.
The draw against Colorado College came as a slight disappointment to the Tigers because Colorado College is the only other nationally ranked team in the SCAC and represents Trinity’s biggest conference rival.
“It was just a really good test that we played the Colorado College game on the road, in a hostile environment, in the atmosphere of a tournament game. It was great to be able to measure ourselves ahead of a tournament against a quality opponent. They actually played better than us in the first half, but we responded really great in the second half,” said assistant coach Edward Cartee.
A large component of the Tigers’ success in and out of conference this season has been the strength of the defense. The goal given up against Colorado College represented only the ninth goal given up by the team all year and only the fifth goal given up in SCAC competition.
“A big key to the defensive dominance we have enjoyed is the senior leadership. Between seniors Denny Mask and Michael Michaletti, fifth year seniors Aaron Olson and Kyle Porter, as well as junior Jeffery Hayes, there is plenty of experience in the back seven. The back seven are a tight-knit group and we have confidence in each other to get the job done. Hopefully, we can continue our defense and offensive success en route to a National Championship,” said sophomore goalkeeper Matt Cardone.
Wednesday night ended with another nail biter during the last game of regular season conference play with a 2-2 double overtime tie against Southwestern University.Trinity’s only goals were made in the first half by junior defender Jeffrey Hayes and sophomore forward Johnny Lawson. Both keepers had numerous saves even though Trinity outshot Southwestern 36-14.
“It was obviously disappointing not getting a win, but our season’s not over and we still have a lot left to play for,” said junior defender MJ Kawamoto. “We have our regular season finale on Friday so we need to put this game behind us and focus on what’s to come. However, I do think playing in a tight game like this will definitely help us come conference tournament and beyond.”
The Tigers will have their final regular season home game of the season at 8 p.m. today against UC-Santa Cruz. The SCAC tournament will be held on campus from Friday Nov. 2 to Sunday Nov. 4, and the Tigers will have their first game of the tournament on Saturday Nov. 3, at 5 p.m. against an opponent yet to be determined.