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Cougar soccer drops tough West match at Cloud
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CONCORDIA – It appeared to be the final hurdle to putting itself in the thick of a Jayhawk Conference title race. At least a share of the title.
The Barton men’s soccer team traveled to Concordia Thursday on a roll – winners of four straight and 10-1 overall. Cloud County entered the game on a roll as well – winners of seven straight and 8-2 overall.
Both teams were battling near the top of the conference. Barton was 5-1 and Cloud 6-2. Pratt leads the Jayhawk at 6-1. For the Cougars it was the last team on the schedule currently with a winning Jayhawk record.
But as is often the case in Concordia – things don’t always go as desired.
The Cougars couldn’t score in the match as Cloud pitched its second straight big-time shutout this week with a 1-0 win. Cloud blanked Pratt Tuesday by a 3-0 score.
That drops Barton to third currently in the conference. Pratt is 6-1 and Cloud 7-2. Barton is 5-2. Garden City at 5-3 will still have a say in the title. The final game of the season is Pratt at Garden. Cloud’s lone remaining game is against Johnson County (4-4).
The intense match saw the Cougars draw four yellow cards in the opening half and go a man-down midway through the half with the game scoreless.
“I take complete responsibility for the loss and costing our team a good chance to win a conference championship,” Barton Coach Aaron Avila said. “My decisions put the team in an extremely tough situation and we were forced to play a man down for three-fourths of the game.
The Cougars dropped to 10 men after Kota Endo picked up his second yellow card of the game at that point.
Ten minutes later Cloud had a 1-0 lead. The Thunderbirds took advantage of having an extra man with a Connor Halpin goal with 10:41 left in the first half.
“We gave up a goal shortly after going down a man in the first half and we were not able to get an equalizer throughout the game,” Coach Avila said. “Our guys played extremely hard and gave Cloud a very competitive game despite playing short-handed.”
The contest was a defensive struggle throughout. Cloud was able to get off 11 shots of which six were on goal. The Cougars got off 10 shots with four on goal.
After a trip to Allen County Saturday the Cougars are back home Tuesday for a non-conference matchup with Maple Woods (Mo).