No. 7 ranked T-Birds upset by KCKCC in second round of Region VI playoffs

Cloud County freshman midfielder Vitor Leitao heads a ball out of the box in Sunday's 1-0 loss to KCKCC
Cloud County freshman midfielder Vitor Leitao heads a ball out of the box in Sunday's 1-0 loss to KCKCC

CONCORDIA, Kansas — The No. 7 ranked Cloud County Community College men's soccer team had its season come to an early end on Sunday, falling 1-0 in overtime to Kansas City Kansas Community College in the second round of the Region VI Playoffs.

The visiting Blue Devils (10-3-1 overall) capitalized on a corner kick opportunity 2:32 into the overtime period as Ricardo Angelo snuck in by the back post and headed home the game-winning goal, spoiling a chance for Cloud County (14-3 overall) to return to the Plains District Championships.

"I told the guys before the game that the only way KCKCC was going to beat us was if it came off a set piece or a corner kick," said Cloud County head coach, James Ross. "In my mind, we made the mistake of making a defensive clear for a corner kick when we had the chance to clear it for a throw in. But our defender was hustling back and I'm not going to fault him for that."

It was a small mistake magnified by a evenly match contest between the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference foes. KCKCC finished with a slim 8-7 shot advantage, while the T-Birds' had a 6-5 edge in corner kicks.

But it was the foul category that summed up Sunday's game the best. The Blue Devils committed 19 fouls to Cloud County's 11 fouls.

"They (Blue Devils) came in here with the mentality of playing physical, disrupting us, and they did that," Ross said. "That really sped up our play, which is not our game. KCKCC did a really good job of taking us out of our game."

Cloud County's best scoring chance of the game came late in the second half when sophomore Rafael Santos had his shot from inside the box turned aside by Blue Devils goalkeeper Youssef Gadelkerim with five seconds remaining.

Freshman goalkeeper Charles Albuquerque finished with a game-high five saves in the tough-luck loss, finishing his first season as a T-Bird with a 12-3 record.

It's a painful end for a Cloud County team that won back-to-back KJCCC West titles and were hungry for a return trip to the NJCAA DI Men's Soccer National Championships.

Ross credited his returning sophomores — Rafael Alkmin, Alan Brandao, Luiz Garcia and Santos — for coming back to lead the 2017 team back to the postseason.

Garcia finishes his career at Cloud County third all-time in goals for a single season (20) and fourth all-time in goals for a career (24). His 46 points this season rank fifth in program history, as well.

"This hurts worse for those guys, those sophomores," Ross said. "They stuck around while some other freshmen from last year's team were leaving. I have massive respect for our sophomores."

Cloud County will now turn its attention toward retooling this offseason and join the national conversation again next season.

"We're going to reload for next year and take another crack at it," Ross said.