GREAT BEND, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College women's soccer team made a statement on Wednesday, going on the road and upending No. 19 Barton Community College by the final score of 5-0.
It was sweet vengeance for the T-Birds (14-1 overall, 12-1 KJCCC), who suffered their lone defeat of the season (5-1) to the Cougars (12-3-1 overall, 11-1-1 KJCCC) back on Sept. 22 in Concordia.
The win also allowed Cloud County to leapfrog Barton in the KJCCC West standings to take over the top spot with one more game remaining; a home showdown against Hutchinson Community College at 2 p.m. Saturday to decide the conference crown.
"It was an exciting win because Barton has been pounding teams in the conference," said Cloud County head coach, Charles Long. "Our girls played really, really well and very connected. Barton has two of the top goal scorers in the conference and we were able to held them to zero at home, so it was rewarding for the girls."
The T-Birds were able to neautralize the Barton duo of Rayssa Neres, who is third in the country and tops in the KJCCC with 36 goals, and Laura Maria, who entered the day third in the KJCCC with 18 goals on the year.
While the defense flustered the Barton forwards, Cloud County freshman midfielder Franciele Cupertino got the T-Birds rolling early with her 14th goal of the season as she capitalized on a penalty kick opportunity, set up by sophomore Joana Villanova drawing a foul inside the Barton box with 31:18 remaining in the first half.
The T-Birds would add one more first-half score with 17:19 left before the break when Cloud County freshman Fernanda Peinado cleaned up a rebound loose inside the Barton box for her team-leading 16th goal of the season.
In the second half, the T-Birds were able to lean on the Cougars and put the game away with three insurance goals, two of which came courtesy of sophomore midfielder Yasmidt Mendoza.
The two goals were the first of 2018 for Mendoza, who cashed in on another rebound opportunity for Cloud County with 20:38 remaining, then added her second just six minutes later on a header off a Cupertino free kick.
"Yasmidt was fantastic (Wednesday) and her goals were two really nice goals," Long said. "She had another shot hit the crossbar or she might have had another one."
Freshman midfielder Aroa Nieto then put the bow on the blowout victory with her fifth goal of the season with 4:43 remaining.
In net, freshman goalkeeper Chelsea Cordice was strong in her first big test of the season. The converted midfielder stopped all five shots she faced to earn her seventh win of the season and fourth shutout.
Cordice, who has played in eight games and made seven starts, is currently second amongst all NJCAA Division I goalkeepers in goals against average (0.19) and tied for second with just one goal allowed this season.
Unfortunately, Cordice would exit the game late in the first half after a collision, but sophomore goalkeeper Alanya Hannigan was able to step in and finish off the shutout with three saves.
"Chelsea played phenomenal until she got hurt in the second half and then Alanya stepped in and did a nice job to finish off the game for us," Long said.
The T-Birds will now turn their attention toward Saturday's 2 p.m. regular season finale against Hutchinson as they aim for their second straight KJCCC West title. Cloud County defeated the Blue Dragons, 2-0, in the first meeting between the two teams on Sept. 26.
"It's going to be a good battle (with Hutchinson). And as I told the girls, these last two games are great preparation for the playoffs," Long said. "Obviously, we want to win the conference, but the important thing is we're already in the playoffs and these final two games are great tests for us as we get ready for the next level."