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Penalty Kick Duel Ends Men's National Tournament Hopes as Titans Close Out Amazing First Year
November 20, 2013 - TYLER, TX – Call them dauntless, tenacious, undeterred. Above all, call them young men with a future.
Eastern Florida State College’s men’s soccer team may have failed to advance after a duel of penalty kicks in pool play of the NJCAA Division I tournament Wednesday, but they showed the stuff of which champions are made.
Down three goals to one in the second half, the Titans roared back to score twice late in their match against the Yavapai Rough Riders, ending regulation in a 3-3 tie, only to lose 4-2 on penalty kicks.
Eastern Florida, 1-0-1 in the tournament concluded its first season with a record of 14-1-3 and the promise of fine things to come.
“We will be the only team in the tournament, aside from the national champion, to go home undefeated,” said a disappointed coach Oliver Twelvetrees, who called his squad, “the better team throughout the game.”
The match did not look promising for the Titans at the start, as they conceded a soft goal to Yavin Cruz less than five minutes in.
The Titans refused to be cowed, recovered their steel and, after considerable persistence, finally equalized in the 41st minute, the goal having come from striker Arturo Roosen on a set piece.
The match remained a draw after halftime, but the Rough Riders broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute on a goal by Lucas Lavanway. Less than two minutes later, Mason Buron produced the Arizonans’ third goal, placing Eastern Florida in a position that looked dire at best.
Undeterred, Melbourne High School graduate Romario Grant replied by converting another set piece in the 68th and then sliced through the Rough Riders to smash the ball into the net in the 73rd to tie the match at 3-3.
“We were flying in the second half . . . . We created our share of opportunities, but couldn’t (convert them),” Twelvetrees said.
Thus the match remained level through full time, setting the stage for penalty kicks under tournament pool play rules, and despite a fine save by goalkeeper Jorge Madera, the Titans fell 4-2.
“It wasn’t an easy game,” said the freshman from Sanger, Calif. “We knew it would be a challenge.”
Disappointed though Eastern Florida’s players and coaches may be, their thoughts already are on 2014.
“Next year is on my mind now. We’re determined to come back to nationals and win it,” Madera said.
“We will grow,” added his coach. “It was a very good season, even though we couldn’t quite take it. But we will grow and hopefully, we will be back here next year. I am proud of this team.”