Women’s game: Lewis and Clark 1-0 SWIC
In the very first matchup of top 25 NJCAA Division 1 women’s soccer sides of the season at Tim Rooney Stadium, #8 in the country Lewis and Clark hosted the #20 side, the Blue Storm from Southwest Illinois College, more cordially known around here as SWIC. L&C entered play with a 11-2-0 record, while SWIC came to Godfrey boasting a 12-1-2 record of their own.
The game would prove to be an incredibly tight contest, both because the teams are in the top 20 of junior college soccer in the country, and because of the sweltering heat, which seems to be lasting later and later every year. The lack of energy due to heat and exhaustion gave some added help to the already strong defensive units, and kept the vaunted offenses of both sides at bay in the first half, with neither team able to break the deadlock in the first 45 minutes.
The sun continued to beat down on the pitch at Tim Rooney Stadium, and as the second half wore on tiredness became a real factor. The extra step or two that a cooler temperature would offer the energy for was the difference in several passes, runs, and offensive chances. Even NJCAA leading scorer Boitumelo Rabale couldn’t make a breakthrough, often left stranded up top without her fellow Trailblazers supporting her attempts to attack.
Despite the desperate pleas of “Run to the ball!!” from the Trailblazer fans in attendance, the team was gassed. SWIC was gassed. Both teams would have probably rather played a game of futsal in the air conditioned gym. Despite the heat and exhaustion, the game was incredibly tense, maybe due in part to said heat and exhaustion. Every play was a fight to maintain possession. This is in incredible contrast to every other game L&C has played, other than their two losses.
Most scoring chances came late in the game, off of free kicks and corner kicks, as open play was a bit of a wash between the evenly matched and evenly tired sides. The Storm made inroads in the late stages, and if not for the heroics of L&C goalkeeper Mercedes King, would have probably won the game in regulation. With minutes remaining in regular time, King rushed out to meet a breaking Blue Storm attacker and made a tackle to knock the ball to the corner. Without a goal scored, we headed to extra time to decide a winner.
It wouldn’t take much extra time to find the golden goal. L&C charged down the field and forced a corner kick. The kick created frenzy in the box, and who else but Boitumelo Rabale turned the loose ball into the SWIC goal, winning the game 1-0 for the Trailblazers, in what’s definitely been the most gripping contest at Tim Rooney stadium this season.
Tim Rooney’s side is back in action at his namesake ground this Saturday, as the Trailblazers welcome Parkland.
Men’s game: Lewis and Clark 4-0 SWIC
Unfortunately for SWIC, their men’s soccer team is not quite the threat that their women’s team has been this season. Where the women are ranked #20 in all of NJCAA Division 1, the men’s team have had their struggles this season, bringing a losing record to Tim Rooney Stadium.
On the other side, the Trailblazer men have been almost as impressive as the women’s team. Also nationally ranked, also a threat on offense, and they made their talent known right away. A sixth minute goal from Reshaun Welkes pushed L&C ahead early on. Ten minutes later, L&C sophomore Luke Mellon latched onto a pass across the face of goal to add to the early lead, and the Trailblazers never looked back. Another Reshaun Welkes goal just before halftime, a superb individual effort, seemingly put the game out of reach for the visiting Blue Storm before they played 45 minutes.
It didn’t magically stop being hot for the men’s game, both sides grew weak and sloppy in the second half, with L&C’s firm grip on the game slipping a little. SWIC started to ask questions of the tiring Trailblazer defense, but to little avail. Kofi Awuah netted a fourth for Lewis and Clark with about twenty minutes left in the match, putting any notion of a Blue Storm comeback to rest.
The convincing win for the men and nail-biter for the women sees both teams improving their record after this in-conference clash. Men’s coach Ryan Hodge’s side has six days till their next contest, as they travel to St. Charles on October 8. For more information about the soccer teams and all Trailblazer athletics, visit LC.edu/athletics.