T-Birds top No. 14 ranked Barton in 2-1 thriller

Freshman goalkeeper Charles Albuquerque celebrates with teammates after making a save on a penalty kick during Saturday's game against Barton
Freshman goalkeeper Charles Albuquerque celebrates with teammates after making a save on a penalty kick during Saturday's game against Barton
CONCORDIA, Kansas -- The rivalry between the Cloud County Community College men's soccer team and Barton Community College added another exciting chapter on Saturday as the T-Birds upset the No. 14 ranked Cougars in a 2-1 thriller.
 
"To me, we're the best two teams in the conference and in the district," said Cloud County head coach, James Ross. "Like their coach (Mike Brown) said, 'It's Barton-Cloud. These are the games we want to play.'"
 
Cloud County (5-1 overall, 4-0 KJCCC West) received a brilliant performance by freshman goalkeeper Charles Albuquerque as he finished with a season-high eight saves; none bigger than his stop on a Barton (6-2 overall, 2-1 KJCCC West) penalty kick with 7:22 remaining.
 
The PK attempt by Barton's Colin Roemer came after a lengthy delay following an injury to Cloud County defenseman and co-captain, Alan Brandao.
 
Brandao appeared to take a knee to the side of his head while sliding to make a tackle and was transported by ambulance off the field. As of Saturday evening, the extent of Brandao's injury was not available.
 
When play resumed, Roemer tried to rifle his penalty kick attempt into the bottom-left corner of the net, but was stonewalled by a diving Albuquerque.
 
"We were all thinking about Alan. He's the heart and soul of the team. He's a captain and one of the top center backs in the country," Ross said. "But we had a gut feeling Charlie was going to make that save. He's a big reason why we won (Saturday)."
 
Cloud fell behind 1-0 early in the first half, but just briefly. Roemer scored at the 17:19 mark to give the Cougars the lead. The T-Birds would answer with the equalizer 33 seconds later as sophomore Hakeem Smith maneauvered his way through Barton's back row and laid a beautiful crossing pass for fellow sophomore, Rafael Santos.
 
"We could not have responded any better," said Ross of Santos' goal.
 
Cloud County would take the lead for good at the 39:01 mark of the first half when sophomore Luiz Garcia scored for the third consectutive game off an assist by freshman Wanes Hobat.
 
The win over the nationally ranked Cougars was especially gratifying for Ross, who moved up to third in Cloud County's all-time wins record book (43-13-6). He passed Steve Ralos, who went 42-19-5 between 2010-2012.
 
"That's a big achievement, especially since its Ralos," Ross said. "In the three years he was here, he won a national title (2011). He's an A-license coach, so it's a big-time honor for me. But the achievement is more on the players. We've brought in good players here and they play the right way."
 
Cloud County will look to extend its current four-game winning streak on Thursday when it travels to take on Hesston College. Action gets underway at 7 p.m. following the women's game.