Part one in a summer series of some of the most memorable moments in Barton athletics
It was November 6, 2010.
For nine seasons the Barton Community College soccer teams called it home.
With the exception of an occasional contest at Great Bend High School, the soccer field at Cougar Fields had hosted every home Barton contest since its first year of play. In Barton’s initial season of 2002 the Cougars played their home games at Cavanaugh Field.
The shiny new artificial turf was waiting for the new field the next season. The Cougars and coach Oliver Twelvetrees knew it would be the final game on the home grass.
“We had some great moments on that field,” Twelvetrees recalled. “We only lost once or twice there while I was coaching. The new facility is obviously great but there was something special about that grass pitch.”
It was a field that had some character. Large trees enclosed the north and west sides. A window of small evergreens ran along the south fence. It sat down off the hill.
Every once in a while a stray baseball would land on the field from batting practice at Lawson-Biggs Field to the north. Players and coaches had to be careful not to trip on the extension cords running east of the field to provide power to the scorer’s table.
“It had a low spot that the ball looked as if it was going to roll out of bounds and it would come back into play,” Twelvetrees said.
The final time as home for a Barton soccer match would be the biggest game of its career. For the first time in school history Barton would play a home match for the right to move onto the NJCAA National Tournament.
It seemed a fitting way to retire the field from competitive play – the Plains District Championship.
But no one could foresee the excitement that game in early November of 2010 would hold. Not only was it the final game and the biggest game for the old grass field, it turned out to be one of, if not, the most exciting game ever played at the facility.
It was a Saturday afternoon. The weather was nice for early November with the exception of a gusty south wind. Barton was looking for its third trip to the NJCAA tournament and its second straight. The Cougars were 18-3-1 on the season and riding a 17-game winning streak.
The Cougars had started the year out 1-3-1 against ranked competition then went on a roll. But due to that slow start they weren’t able to crack the rankings until late October. They had climbed to No. 8 in the polls.
Western Texas came to town with a 21-2 record on the field with its only two losses to Top 5 ranked teams.
The first half was quiet enough. The two teams combined to get just three shots on goal and no one found the net. Western Texas had a chance but with the wind at its back a penalty kick sailed over the Barton goal.
The second half, however, was a different story.
Western Texas scored just 2:29 into the half as Billy Forbes took a pass from Samuel Haynes and dribbled by the Barton keeper for an open shot into goal.
Three times it looked as if Barton had tied the game. The first came when the Western Texas keeper bobbled a shot and it appeared to have crossed the line but the officials ruled no.
Two more times the Cougars did score only to see it wiped off the board. Once on an offside call and once on a penalty.
It appeared as if it just wasn’t Barton’s day.
When Ricardo Yeverino – Barton’s leader in goals scored that year – picked up his second yellow card of the game with 23 minutes left the Cougars had to play a man down the rest of the way.
Even though they were a man short the Cougars continued to force the action on the offensive end. But as the clock ticked under 10 minutes a feeling of urgency began to invade the Barton sideline and the 400 or so rowdy fans at the game.
Then the Cougars got the break they needed – a foul on Western Texas on the Westerners’ side of the field with just less than seven minutes to play.
It was a good 40 yards out but with a 20 mph wind helping as Barton kicked to the north, there was hope.
Adrian Alvarez lined up near the Barton bench and sent the ball towering toward the Westerners goal. The wind kept it aloft just long enough to go over the outstretched arms of the Western Texas keeper and into the net.
The game was tied at 1-all with 6:24 to play. It was just the second goal in the career of the sophomore defender from Dodge City.
“I think everyone thought it was over,” Twelvetrees remembered. “We were playing with 10 but the boys showed some heart. Then Adrian hit a 40-yard bomb.”
But the reality was Barton was still playing a man down.
The game appeared headed to overtime as it entered the final minute tied. But another foul near midfield gave Barton one last chance.
This time Adrian Lockett quickly sat the ball and took the free kick sending it toward the Western Texas goal where the Westerners keeper knocked it down.
But almost as if to say ‘thanks for the memories’ the old grass field gave the ball a Barton bounce. It bounced to the foot of yet another defender – Italo Arcelino. Arcelino punched the ball into the net with just 15 seconds left and the largest crowd in the history of the field went crazy.
“It was one of the biggest moments in my coaching career,” Twelvetrees said. “That game, that moment, the biggest crowd we ever had, the celebration on the field, I still get goose bumps talking about it.”
Somehow, someway the Cougars had said goodbye to the pitch with a win. And with it a second straight trip to the NJCAA Tournament.
Barton would go on and finish third at the tournament – the highest finish in school history.
Two of the most recognizable figures in the short history of Barton soccer finished their home careers that day.
Three months later 1st team All-American Kevin Ellis would sign an MLS contract with Sporting Kansas City. He is now a starting defender for the team.
Ous Senghore – a third-year sophomore from Gambia in West Africa – had battled back from a redshirt season after a knee injury to earn 2nd team All-Region VI. During his three years at the school he became one of the most beloved students on campus.
After finishing his soccer career at the University of Texas-Brownsville in 2012 Senghore died in a drowning accident in the Gulf of Mexico at 27 years of age in the summer of 2013.
“Ous passing away was tough. That was a great group of boys,” Twelvetrees said. “They are still close to this day. I’m sure the boys have had a lot of fun nights talking about that win. It is one of the most memorable games I have ever coached.
“I felt we were the second best team in the country that year. We lost to Tyler (Texas) in the semifinals and they went on to win their second straight title.”
Since leaving the grass for the artificial turf the Cougars have continued to have great success. The Cougars won another Region VI title in 2012 but it will take an unbelievable game to match that final game on the grass pitch at Cougar Fields.