The Western Nebraska Community College men’s soccer team played lights out defense and goalkeeper Imanal Munoz recorded 14 saves in net to give WNCC a 1-0 win over Casper College in Region IX conference play Wednesday at Landers Soccer Complex.
Munoz, a Holdrege High graduate, said the defense played well.
“The defense was really helpful. I probably had 10 saves myself, but then I don’t think I would have had the shutout if it wasn’t for my defense,” he said. “they saved me a good six saves as well.”
A big key to the win Wednesday was a team meeting the team had Monday. Last week, the Cougars dropped two matches and tied another. That meeting proved beneficial Wednesday.
“We started looking at the roles of the formation that we have to play. Monday we actually sat down and talked about our roles so they knew what they are doing. I thought that really helped us,” Munoz said. “That helped us to figure out where we needed to go. But, today I think we all just played really well the first half. The second half we panicked a little bit, but we managed to stay together and pull out the win.”
The goal the Cougars scored was a nice goal that helped with momentum.
“That goal gave us momentum first half,” Munoz said. “It made us stay focused for the second half as well and it was fun.”
While the defense was playing lights out, the offense needed just one goal and they got the goal early in the contest off a free kick.
With 34:02 to play in the first half, Shota Masako delivered a free kick to the box and Paul Cerros found the ball in the air and put the ball into the net for the score.
WNCC had just a handful of shots all afternoon but couldn’t capitalize on the other shots.
The defense, although, was the name of the game for the Cougars especially some of the saves that Munoz recorded. In the first half, Casper had two golden scoring chances, but Munoz made a big save on one of them and then the defense saved another as the teams went into halftime at 1-0 and WNCC leading.
The second half, with the American flag not moving because of no wind, proved to be played the most on Casper’s offensive side. The Cougars had a couple runs for another score, but nothing came of them.
Casper had another prime scoring chance with 21 minutes to play with a corner kick, but nothing came of it. The Thunderbirds did happen to score with 17 minutes to play, but the score was nullified because of a foul.
With under five minutes to play, Casper kept trying to get the tying goal. With 2:50 left, Casper had a shot but Munoz came up with a big save to keep the shutout in tack. Then, with 30 seconds to play, the Thunderbirds had another shot, but Munoz recorded another save to lead the Cougars to the victory.
Casper outshot WNCC 15-7 and the Thunderbirds had six cornerkicks compared to just three for the Cougars.
WNCC will be back in action Saturday for the final regular season home match when they face Northeastern Junior College in another conference contest.
Munoz said they just need to play great defense and score some goals to top the Plainsmen.
“We have to come mentally prepared,” Munoz said. “We have to play better than we did today and to make sure that we have a good game.”