CHEYENNE – Eastern Florida State College caught Laramie County Community College wide-eyed, and rode two early goals to a 4-0 victory in the semifinals of the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament Friday in Tyler, Texas.
The Titans scored two goals in the first seven minutes.
“Our kids played with a lot of heart and grit, but they were kind of asleep for the first 15 minutes,” Golden Eagles coach Vince Gibson said. “Three out of the four goals they scored were things we could have fixed. We also had a few chances we couldn’t put away.”
Eastern Florida took the lead in the fourth minute when Abdoulaye Diop received a corner kick in space and uncorked a right-footed shot past LCCC freshman goalkeeper Declan Domyan.
Moussa Gueye extended the lead to 2-0 in the seventh minute when the Titans executed a short corner kick. Hugo Catherine took the kick and crossed it to Gueye, who headed it into the goal.
“We just didn’t step up on the guy and gave him plenty of room to shoot on that first goal,” Gibson said. “The second one, we needed to mark the two guys out for the corner kick and we didn’t.”
Aedon Kyra pushed the lead to 3-0 with an assist from Brandon McSwigan in the 28th minute. LCCC’s defenders were looking for an offside call as Kyra caught up to McSwigan’s through-ball, but never got the call.
The Eagles (16-5-1) appeared to get on the scoreboard in the 59th when Alexis Flores connected with Nathan Stitt for a score, but Stitt was called offside.
ESFC’s final goal came in the 73rd when goalkeeper Nour Moaoui’s kick went over the field players. Kyra caught up to it behind the defense and chipped a bouncing ball over Domyan’s head for a 4-0 advantage.
Despite the loss, Gibson called his team’s season an overwhelming success. The Eagles were playing in their first NJCAA tournament.
“The guys really exceeded expectations this season,” Gibson said. “We won (Region IX) in the regular season and in the tournament, we won the district and we made it to nationals for the first time.
“We also made it to the semifinals at nationals. We started just two sophomores, so we expect to bring everyone back and just have to fill a couple big holes. Hopefully we’ll be back to nationals again next year.”
EFSC (16-1-2) faces Monroe College of New Rochelle, N.Y. (17-0-0) for the title at 5 p.m. today.
E. FLORIDA ST. 4, LCCC 0
Goals: EFSC, Diop (Unassisted), 4. EFSC, Gueye (Catherine), 7. EFSC, Kyra (McSwigan), 28. EFSC, Kyra (Moaoui), 73.
Shots: LCCC 11, EFSC 11. Shots on goal: LCCC 5, EFSC 7. Saves: LCCC 3 (Domyan); EFSC 5 (Moaoui).
Corner kicks: LCCC 2, EFSC 5. Offsides: LCCC 2, EFSC 1. Fouls: LCCC 4, ESFC 7. Yellow card: EFSC 1 (Yeutter, 79). Red cards: LCCC 2 (Naite, 85. Broadhurst, 85).