History continues to be made at the University of Arkansas Rich Mountain, as the Bucks men’s soccer team won the NJCAA Division 1 Region 2 Championship over the weekend.
Going into the Region 2 Tournament, the Bucks (8-3-5) were slated as the #4 seed. However, the Murray State College Aggies were forced to forfeit their season due to an ineligible player, giving Rich Mountain the #3 seed, with a matchup against the familiar Golden Norsemen (10-6-2) of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in the first round.
After two halves of regulation and two overtime periods, the first round match remained scoreless, forcing penalty kicks. Both teams made their first couple of shots, before NEO’s Jayden Perry was unsuccessful, giving the Bucks a 3-2 lead. Next up, Rich Mountain’s Marcos Pires and Alex Frances of NEO found the back of the net, setting up Cesar Requena an opportunity to seal the victory for Rich Mountain. Requena didn’t disappoint, and found the back of the net, to push the Bucks on to the Region 2 Championship match.
In the Championship contest, the Bucks squared off with the #1 seed Rose State Raiders (12-6-1). Trevor Lewis got the Bucks on the scoreboard first with a goal of his own, thanks to an assist from Thomas Mullen at the 18:56 mark. However, the Bucks weren’t done scoring, as Rich Mountain went on to score on a Caleb Summerfield thrown-in that hit off the shoulder of Mackenize Crerie. With the goal, the Bucks extend their lead to 2-0 going into halftime.
Rich Mountain was held to a total of zero shots in the second half of play, but the Bucks defense helped cap off the win. The Raiders killed the shutout at the 78:20 mark with a goal by Justin Croke. After 90 minutes, the Bucks won 2-1, to make history by winning the Region 2 Championship in their inaugural season, and advance to the Plains District Tournament.
“The boys worked super hard this weekend. They wanted to be a part of history,” said Bucks Head Coach Brian Bryrd.
Byrd noted, “Both games were tight, and the defense was rock solid. The intensity level for both games was extreme. These boys are brothers and they battle hard for one another.”
Lastly, Byrd added, “We have created a little piece of history, but we want to keep adding to the story. We are not ready to be done.”
With their Region 2 Championship, the Bucks advanced to the Plains District Tournament in Wichita, Kansas. On Wednesday, November 6, Rich Mountain will match up with the Johnson County Cavaliers (11-5-3) in the first round. With a Rich Mountain win, the Bucks will advance to the District Championship match on Thursday against the winner of Cowley College (12-1-2) and Hill College (11-4-0). The Champion of the Plains District Tournament will advance to the National Tournament.