A long time coming but Kansas City Kansas Community College's first home soccer playoff was worth the wait.
Unable to host past playoff games because the previous soccer field was not regulation size, the Blue Devils wrote a 4-0 blanking of Garden City into the record book Thursday night. The win ended a four-game Garden City win streak.
The win advanced KCKCC into the Final Four of the Region VI playoffs and sends the Blue Devils (9-3-1) to Cloud County in Concordia Sunday at 1 p.m. The West champion at 14-2, Cloud opened playoff action with a 3-1 win over Johnson County Thursday.
The game was played with winds gusting 20-30 miles an hour out of the north and a chill factor in the 30's, giving a distinct advantage to the team with the wind at its back. However, the Blue Devils scored just one goal with the wind the first half and the three into the wind the second half.
"We wanted to take advantage of the wind and score more goals in the first half but it didn't happen," said KCKCC Coach Ruben Rodriguez." At halftime, we told the team we faced a tough challenge in the second half and they really stepped up to the plate."
Sophomore Guilherme Grave scored the lone first half goal on a leaping shot past Garden City goalkeeper Louis Sharp. The goal came on a pass from J.C. Harmon sophomore Jesse Calderon 18 minutes into the first half.
The Blue Devils then broke the game open with two goals in the first nine minutes of the second half. Sophomore Ricardo Angelo scored the first on a pass from freshman Gustavo Palmeiri at the 52-minute mark and two minutes later freshman Reed Axthelm made it 3-0 on an assist from Grave. Dubai freshman Abdulrahmen Khalid got the final goal with four minutes left on an assist from freshman Hector Valles.
Sophomore Youssef Gadelkerim of Dubai pitched the shutout for the Blue Devils, stopping three shots on goal while the Blue Devils peppered Sharp with 10 shots. "A good win; I was happy for the boys," said Rodriguez. "Now we have to get ready for our next game with Cloud."
In other first round action Thursday, East champion Neosho County (15-3-1) defeated Northwest Kansas Technical College 4-1 and will play Barton County Sunday. Barton (13-5-1) was a 5-4 winner over Cowley. Sunday's two winners will collide Tuesday with the winner advancing to the four-team NJCAA Plains Division championship in Topeka Nov. 2-3.
PHOTO IDENTS (opening goal)
A leaping Guilherme Grave gave Garden City goalkeeper Louis Sharp no chance Thursday as he fired a shot that gave Kansas City Kansas Community College its first goal in a 4-0 opening playoff win. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)