CONCORDIA, Kansas — A year ago, the Cloud County Community College women's soccer team knocked out Coffeyville, 2-0, in the Region VI championship game to qualify for the program's first national tournament berth.
The two teams met again on Thursday in the first round of this year's Region VI Playoffs — a 6-0 drubbing at Harold M. Clark Stadium in Concordia — in what the T-Birds hope was just the first step in another march toward a national tournament appearance in 2018.
"I was impressed with the girls. They came ready to play and were focused on taking care of what we needed to on the field," said Cloud County head coach, Charles Long. "Coffeyville was the team Cloud beat in the playoffs last year, so there was some history there, and I was impressed with how the girls handled it."
Thursday's rout was on early as the T-Birds (15-2 overall) tallied their first two goals within the first 3:31 of play.
A minute late, sophomore defenseman Juliana Lima showed off some touch with a beautifully placed lead to Izabella Christina, who walked in and scored to make it a 2-0 advantage over the Red Ravens (10-7 overall).
Cloud County added one more goal before the half when sophomore Yasmidt Mendoza was sprung open along the left side but two quick, one-touch passes by Cupertino and Christina.
After two assists in the first half, Cupertino then shouldered the scoring load in the second half with a pair of goals to cap off what was a six-point day.
Cupertino opened the second half with a goal off a free kick that one-hopped the Coffeyville keeper and into the back of the net from 45-yards out.
She collected her second goal of the game with 4:26 remaining, capitalizing on a one-on-one opportunity after receiving a lead pass from freshman midfielder Aroa Nieto.
With the six points, Cupertino upped her team lead to 48 points on the season, which ranks fourth amongst all KJCCC players.
Not lost in the scoring barrage was the play of the Cloud County defense, which was able to neutralize the trio of Ashley Talley, Gabriela Rodrigues and Christina Kitaru and hold Coffeyville to five shots on goal.
"(Kitaru) is an outstanding player and we double-teamed her most of the game. Coffeyville's No. 9 (Rodrigues) is a good player and we kept someone on her all game, and (Talley) in the midfield is an effective player and Franciele did a nice job staying with her and shutting her down," Long said. "We were able to limit Coffeyville's attacks. Our defense has been anchoring us for a while, which is nice."
Sophomore goalkeeper Chelsea Cordice, back after missing one game due to a concussion, stopped all five shots she faced to improve to 8-0 on the season while lowering her goals against average to 0.15 in nine appearances.
Cloud County won't know until late Thursday evening which team it'll face in the second round of the Region VI Playoffs set for Saturday. No. 1 see Butler and No. 8 seed Dodge City kick off at 7 p.m. in El Dorado.
If the top-seeded Grizzlies win, the T-Birds would go on the road Saturday. A potential kickoff time is not yet determined. But if Dodge City pulls the upset, the T-Birds would host the Conquistadors at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Harold M. Clark Stadium.
"If we do end up getting Butler, it'll be a major challenge. They (Grizzlies) beat Coffeyville, 5-1, this season so that gives us an idea of where we stand," Long said. "But as I told the girls after the game, 'Congratulations on the win. It's one step down and we're hoping we have a few more to go.'"