AXTON, Va. ---- The Massasoit men's soccer team played toe to toe with top seed and No. 1 nationally ranked Louisburg College for the first 78 minutes on day one of the NJCAA National Tournament. However, the Hurricanes capitalized when they needed to, putting away two late goals, which proved to be the difference as the Warriors fell 3-1 on Monday afternoon.
Massasoit (13-7) will look to rebound in day two of pool play by taking on No. 8 seed Iowa Western (16-1-4) at 1 p.m. at the River Sports Complex on Tuesday.
In their first Nationals appearance in 20 years, the Warriors were looking to make noise in the first overall game of the tournament. For the first 78 minutes, it appeared as though Massasoit had a chance to shock the tournament field and snap the Hurricane's 19-match win streak.
"It was a very even game both ways," Massasoit head coach Rui Estrela said. "They had some chances, we had some great chances that we didn't capitalize on. I think that was the difference in the game -- they capitalized and we didn't."
Andrew Revanales (Trinidad/Sharon HS), Massasoit's leading scorer, took a breakaway in the just the eighth minute of action, but Louisburg keeper Braulino Linares-Ortiz made great outstretched save to keep the Warriors off the scoreboard.
The early attack by the Warriors woke up the Hurricanes, who entered the contest with just one loss on the season and now sit at 21-1 overall.
In the 11th minute, the Warriors tried to clear a ball out of their own defensive end, but the pass was intercepted. On the counter attack, Max Blackmore, the nation's leading goal scorer, snuck one past Massasoit keeper Edmilson Xavier (Brockton) to own a 1-0 advantage. It marked the 32nd goal of the season for Blackmore.
Despite allowing the early goal, Massasoit responded quickly. At the 14:36 mark, Sidney Cardoso (Portugal) fed a through ball to Revanales who buried his team-high 22nd goal of the season and 47th of his career for the equalizer.
The Massasoit defense, thanks in large part to Xavier in net, was able to keep the score knotted, when he blocked a breakaway shot by Louisburg's Louis Popp in the 19th minute. The freshman keeper finished with a career-high eight saves, four in each half.
Louisburg had another great chance to take the lead right before the end of the half off a free kick. A cross into the box saw the Hurricanes rifle off two shots, but the Warrior defense stood tall and blocked both attempts as the game went to halftime tied.
Coming out of the half, the Warriors showcased an extra pep in their step, playing right with the nation's top team, and produced three great scoring opportunities.
In the 47th minute, Cardoso received a through ball pass from Revanales for what appeared to be a breakaway go-ahead goal. But, a Louisburg defender came from behind and poked the ball away prior to Cardoso getting a shot off.
Minutes later, the Warriors had their best chances of the day against Louisburg, which entered the contest allowing just 0.62 goals per game and tallied 11 shutouts on the season.
Jose Erazo (Hyannis/Barnstable) beat a Hurricane defender along the sideline and crossed a ball into the box right to Cardoso, but his header went right to the Louisburg keeper. Less than a minute later, Kessy Alves (Brockton/Southeastern Voc.) took a give-and-go pass from Erazo and fired a cross into the box, where Cardoso was waiting. Unfortunately his one-time shot somehow found the Louisburg keeper again as the game remained tied.
"If we came out of the gates like we did in the second half, I think this would have been a totally different scenario. We had some great chances to score at the beginning of the second half, but we were just unable to finish," Estrela said. "But give credit to Louisburg, they are a great team and played hard."
Massasoit remained the aggressor throughout the rest of the second half until the 79th minute. Off a Louisburg corner kick, the ball made its way in front of the net past several players from both teams. During the scrum, Robert Smith was there to knock in what proved to be the game-winner for the Hurricanes.
Four minutes later, Louisburg, playing extremely energized after taking the lead, tacked on an insurance goal when Alex Kao finished at 82:42.
"I thought we were putting the pressure on Louisburg throughout the game," Estrela said. "We played much better in the second half. Their second goal took the wind out of us. We were putting so much pressure on (Louisburg) and working so hard that once we fell down 2-1 I think it just deflated us. Which is unfortunate because I thought we played well and hung with (Louisburg)."
- Massasoit made its 15th appearance at the NJCAA Nationals and its first since 1995.
- Andrew Revanales scored his 47th career goal in the loss. He now has a total of 129 points during his two-year career with the Warriors.
- Sidney Cardoso recorded his eighth assist and now has 40 points on the year.
- GK Edmilson Xaiver set a career-high with eight saves.
- Massasoit is now 11-3 since starting 2-4 on the season. The Warriors have now lost two consecutive games for just the second time this season.