TRENTON, N.J. ---- The Massasoit CC men's soccer team is heading back to the NJCAA Nationals for the first time in 20 years, after defeating Monroe CC, 2-0, in the Northeast District Semifinals at Mercer County CC on Saturday afternoon.
The Northeast District rotates between sending one or two teams to Nationals each year. In 2015, both Northeast District Championship qualifiers will get the opportunity to play for a National title held in Martinsville, Va., from Nov. 16-21, hosted by Patrick Henry CC.
Massasoit (13-5) is not yet done with play in New Jersey, as the Warriors will take on ASA College (7-6-3) on Sunday at 11 a.m. in the district finals held at Mercer County CC. ASA advanced by defeating Mercer County in penalty kicks in the other district semifinal contest.
"Thank God we finally made it to Nationals!" 10th year head coach Rui Estrela said. "I thought I was going to have to retire and never get to go. These kids played so hard today. The first half was amazing what we were doing both offensively and defensively."
The trip is a long awaited one for Estrela and his assistant coaches Dave DaSilva and Manny Pimentel. The staff has come ever so close to leading the Warriors to Nationals over the last 10 seasons, including falling in the district finals a season ago.
On Saturday, Massasoit was out for revenge and played with a purpose, having lost to Monroe CC, 4-3 in overtime earlier in the season and played extremely focused at the task at hand.
In the opening half, Warrior top goal scorer, Andrew Revanales (Trinidad/Sharon HS), received a through ball pass from Kessy Alves (Brockton/Southeastern Voc.) and the sophomore striker did what he does best. Revanales rifled home the match's first goal, his 21st of the season, in the 13th minute of action to give Massasoit a much needed jolt on offense and stun the Tribunes early on.
Revanales then had breakaway opportunities in the 19th and 21st minutes, but Tribune keeper Mark Kamstra (seven saves) made two impressive stops to keep the Massasoit advantage to just one goal.
In the 34th minute, Elvis Andrade (Brockton/Penn Foster (Pa.)) rocketed a shot on a breakaway that Kamstra made another fantastic save on. The rebound off the saved shot bounced back to the top of the box where midfielder Jose Erazo (Hyannis/Barnstable HS) was there to loft a shot over the keeper who was out of the position to give Massasoit a 2-0 lead.
"What a touch by Jose," Estrela said. "He has been phenomenal for us. That was a great touch. He placed it perfectly. He has been one of most consistent players all year."
Massasoit commanded the tempo of the first half, outshooting Monroe CC, 10-2 in the opening stanza and continually kept pressure on the Tribune defense.
In the second half, Massasoit had two more breakaway opportunities but was unable to convert. The final 20 minutes of regulation saw the pressure start to mount on both sides.
"Second half we dropped off a bit," Estrela said. "We were up 2-0 and we started playing a little cautious. Overall the boys came out and did their jobs. Again, we had quite a few chances to score and I think we need to do a little better job finishing."
After a Monroe CC free kick sailed high over the net, the Tribunes regained possession, then had two shots from inside the box blocked by the Warrior defense at the 15-minute mark.
Despite the constant attack in the game's final minutes, Massasoit held on for its fifth straight win and ninth shutout of the season.
Keeper Edmilson Xavier (Brockton) made four saves in net, three in the second half, for the clean sheet. The Warriors also received excellent defensive play from William Baah (Pawtucket, R.I.), Terrance Treh (Milford, Mass.), Kyle McGibbon (Jamaica), Zac DaCunha (Somerset, Mass.) and Fabio Gomes (Pawtucket R.I.).
"Now we need to regroup for tomorrow against ASA. It is a quick turnaround and we will see what happens," Estrela said.
Sunday will mark the first time Massasoit has played ASA since falling to the Avengers in penalty kicks of the district semifinals in 2013.