McDermott Header Sends Knights into Region Finals!
Warwick, R.I. – November 1, 2021: The CCRI men's soccer team travelled to play Roxbury this On Saturday to play in the Region XXI DIII Men’s Soccer Semifinal versus the tigers of Roxbury Community College for a game that began at 6:00pm on Saturday. Poor weather made the match a much longer affair than had been anticipated. With the game 3-1 and the Knights in the lead the game was halted due to poor conditions. The match continued Sunday with the Knights prevailing 4-3 to improve their record to 10-4 and advance to the Region XXI Championship versus No.1 seed Bunker Hill Community College.
Teams ca be prepared for many things in a soccer match however, the circumstances of this weekend offered challenges that would be difficult for any team to deal with. The Knights took on the challenge on the road with heavy rain looming in the forecast.
The game kicked off and just two minutes into the game, there was a breakdown in the shift on the Knights’ defense, Roxbury was able to cross the ball into the net where there was an overload of Roxbury players. Cristian Justiniano (Providence, RI) was unable to control the two extra players and the ball was struck into the net putting the Knight down 1-0. Soon after the goal, the rain began to come down in buckets. The Knights played on working hard to get on the score board. In the 11th minute, Aaron Ramos (Warwick, RI) unleashed a wicked shot from 30 yards out the knuckled its way at the Roxbury goaltender. Head Coach Gabe Toro commented “The ball had so much movement that the Roxbury keeper could not get his hands on it as it fired past his head.” Ramos’ goal tied the game at 1-1 as the rain continued to intensify. Six minutes later, Knights co-captain Pablo Puac (Pawtucket, RI) was inspired by Ramos’s shot and looked like he wanted to one up him. Puac squared up and hit a 35 to 40 yard violent shot from distance that found the top corner of the net to make the score 2-1 CCRI. Coach Toro mentioned: “It was one of the best goals I have ever seen in any league.” It was a spectacular goal, that gave the Knights an amazing energy as the continued to batter the players and the field, filling up the side lines with puddles and the water also began to affect the passing of the ball as it travelled from player to player. However, the Knights were still able to pass the ball so quickly and efficiently despite the weather conditions. It was an example of the beautiful game at its best. The team cohesion was on display as they were moving the ball frustrating the Roxbury pursuit. Pablo Puac came off after a knock. With about five minutes left in the half, Thiago Pereira (North Providence, RI) placed a nice floating pass inside the Penalty Kick spot where Daniel Tinoco (Providence, RI) made a perfect run to head it past the Roxbury goalkeeper to give the Knights a 3-1 lead at half time.
The officials gathered at half time while the teams talked strategy for the second half. The officials approached the head coaches and deemed the field conditions were not fit to continue play on Saturday. Standing water on the side lines was up to five inches deep and the field itself was starting to puddle creating a dangerous playing field for the players according to officials. Game was scheduled to resume Sunday at 4pm right where they left off: 3-1 CCRI with one half to play.
The Knights returned to Roxbury to finish the Region XXI semifinal versus Roxbury with a 3-1 lead. The Tigers came out firing, aggressively trying to tie up the game as quickly as they could. Seven minutes into the second half Roxbury's number 10, scored and making it a 3-2 game. The Knights midfield was not able to gain possession and started playing Roxbury's long ball game, which is not a strength for the Knights. This put more pressure on Fabian Mueller and Cristian Justiniano on the back line. Matt Gibeau (Warwick, RI) had another amazing defensive game, covering the flank, covering Roxbury's best player, forward Brener Cardoso, who only scored a goal for Roxbury when he shifted towards the middle away from Knights’ Defender Gibeau. Adnel Lopez (Cranston, RI) also had an excellent Semifinal with the Knights defensive corps.
Without the middle field being able to keep possession like the night before, Roxbury had more chances to play their long balls into the back of the CCRI defense. At the 70th minute, Roxbury pounced on a ball that came into the box, co-captain Keeper Ednilson Tavares (Pawtucket, RI) came out to smother the ball, but he got hit by a Roxbury player which resulted in the ball coming out of his hands. No call was made and the live ball trickled into Roxbury’s Leandro Brandao’s path and he pushed it into the open net tying the game 3-3. It was a painful goal for CCRI, as Roxbury took the momentum and capitalized. However, the Knights have a fighting spirit and the whole team had done it all year, so Coach Toro knew they would fight until the very end. Ricardo Foster (Cranston, RI) and Joe Dorce (Providence, RI) came in to bring fresh legs into the game and to try to create more offense despite the disconnect in the Knights midfield. With about seven minutes left in the game, the Knights were awarded a corner kick after Aaron Ramos and Wilson Penafiel (Providence, RI) started to connect some passes and move up through the midfield. Aaron Ramos took the corner kick, a beautiful driven ball into the box. Ethan McDermott (Cumberland, RI) timed his run from the back as he launched in the air over the Roxbury defenders. Once in the air, he dialed in on the ball and struck it into the back of the net with his head. McDermott buried the ball giving the Keeper no chance and the Knights a 4-3 lead as they all broke out into celebration. With that wonder strike, the Knights took the win and the game ended with a 4-3 score line. Coach Toro was very proud of his team and the way they handled themselves throughout the adversity of the weather and the physical play of Roxbury. Toro commented “We were composed, and very well disciplined throughout and did not play into the Roxbury taunting and physical play.” Roxbury had six yellow cards in the contest and the CCRI Knights had one. Coach Toro added “It is very difficult to stay in control at this age in your life and not retaliate when the other team is testing you. Our young men raised their level mentally and acted like professionals out there.”
The Knights advance to the Region XXI finals on Tuesday when they will travel to Bunker Hill Community College for a 3pm kick-off in Boston.
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The Community College of Rhode Island, New England’s largest comprehensive community college, enrolls nearly 10,000 students in credit courses and thousands more in non-credit and job training classes. Its athletic program boasts 12 varsity programs and an academic support program for all student-athletes.