It was definitely a game that would play into the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference standings later in the season — as well as Region VI seeding.
Even though the calendar has not even turned to October, the importance of the game at the Barton Sports Complex was not lost Sunday afternoon.
When it was over, it was Barton that had secured a big Jayhawk Conference win over rival Cloud County by a narrow 2-1 margin.
“It was a good win for our guys against a talented team,” Barton head coach Aaron Avila said.
The game was a defensive battle, but when it counted it was the Cougars who scored a late goal to put themselves on the winning side of the contest.
The two teams showed their defensive prowess in the opening half as neither team was able to get a shot on goal — in fact neither team even got off a shot through 45 minutes of play.
“It was a slow start for both team,” Avila said. “Neither team could get anything going during the first half. The game opened up during the half.”
The second half was indeed a totally different story.
Barton took the lead early in the second half as the Cougars scored just seven minutes into the half.
Jiro Barriga Toyama, a freshman from Japan, gave Barton the 1-0 advantage as he scored on a shot in the box off a pass from Brazilian freshman Renan Sousa.
Barton held that lead for more than 20 minutes. But the Thunderbirds eventually put the equalizer on the board.
That came with just 15 minutes left in the match, when a barrage of shots from Cloud eventually got past Barton keeper Austin Kail.
Kail saved a pair of shots in the box, but Barton couldn’t clear the ball and eventually it caught up to them.
Kendy Pierre finally got the ball by Kail on Cloud’s third shot to make it a 1-all contest with 15:02 to play.
The fast action continued as Cloud immediately got a two more good attacks, but the Barton defense held its ground.
The Cougars countered with a break of its own as Matt Sherrod dribbled down the field and fed Sousa in the box. Sousa made the most of his opportunity, scoring his third goal of the season when he beat Cloud keeper Saul De Los Santos low just four minutes after Cloud had tied the score.
“We were able to finish a couple of our opportunities,” Avila said. “That proved to be the difference in the game.”
Barton was able to hold off any serious Cloud attacks the final 11 minutes to secure the big conference win.
Barton moves to 3-1-2 in the Jayhawk and are currently in second place with 11 points. Coffeyville still leads the Jayhawk with a 4-0 mark for 12 points.
Cloud sits in third with 10 points, currently 3-2-1 in the conference. Barton is now 4-3-3 overall while Cloud falls to 4-5-1.
Barton gets a week off from any competition and nearly 10 days before returning to conference action.
In fact, the Cougars will have just one Jayhawk contest over the next 20 days.
Barton travels to Salina on Sunday to take on the Kansas Wesleyan JV, then hosts Cowley on Oct. 7 in Jayhawk play.
The Cougars will step out of conference play to host Northeastern (Colo) Junior College Oct. 10 in their final home game.
Barton wraps up play Oct. 19 at Neosho County and Oct 28 at Pratt as the Cougars have just five games the entire month of October.