CONCORDIA, Kansas — On a sunny Thursday afternoon in Concordia, Kansas; the No. 8 ranked Cloud County Community College men's soccer team were back to business as usual, picking up right where it left off at the end of the regular season with a 3-0 victory over Neosho County Community College in the first round of the Region VI Men's Soccer Playoffs.
"We don't talk winning and losing. We talk outworking opponents, finish your chances and minimize mistakes. The results will be there at the end of the game," said Cloud County head coach, James Ross. "We just beat a very, very good Neosho County team. It is very well coached and very deep off the bench. They (Panthers) are a very quality team, but I told my guys before the game we needed come out early and pounce on them."
Cloud County (16-0-1 overall) were able to do just that as freshman Rafael Alkmin buried a shot just five minutes into the first half to put Cloud up 1-0.
The scored stayed that way until 18:16 remaining in the first half when freshman defender Ignacio Diaz Leblic recorded his first points of the 2016 season with a header off a T-Birds corner kick.
"Nacho could have had eight goals during the regular season off corner kicks and he told me yesterday 'I'm saving my goals for the regional tournament,' and then boom," Ross said. "It was excellent all the way around. It was a huge lift and, now on corner kicks, he knows he can put it in the back of the net."
After carrying a 2-0 lead into the half, the T-Birds took the air out of the ball in the second as they were able to dominate time of possession and neutralize any Panthers' attempts to generate scoring opportunities.
With 8:04 remaining, freshman midfielder Roberto Gomes put the cherry on top of the T-Birds' 3-0 first-round victory as he headed in his third goal of the season off another Cloud County corner kick.
Cloud, the No. 1 seed out of the NJCAA Region VI West, advances to the second round to play the Region VI East's No. 2 seed, Cowley Community College (10-4 overall). Cowley edged Dodge City Community College 2-1 in double-overtime on Thursday.
The T-Birds and Tigers will kickoff at 1 p.m. Sunday for the right to move on to the NJCAA Plains District Men's Soccer Championships on November 4-5.
"Cowley plays very high pressure and are a very physical team," said Ross, whose team defeated Cowley, 2-1, in the second round of last year's Region VI Tournament. "It's a big rivalry between us and Cowley. They (Tigers) are going to come out feisty and very aggressive. But we're not going to change anything we do."