The third-ranked Golden Eagles women’s soccer team competed in its third straight NJCAA national championship in Melbourne, Florida, where the Golden Eagles planned to improve on their third place finish last year.
Pool play is based on a team’s national rank from the regular season. The Golden Eagles were the No. 3 seed based on their number three national rank, which placed them in pool c. In the pool was 10th-ranked Moraine Valley Community College from Illinois and sixth-ranked ASA Brooklyn. The pools are based on a points system, and if a team wins its pool with the most points it advances to the semifinals.
In their first pool play game, the Golden Eagles squared up against the 17-2 and Region IV champions Moraine Valley Cyclones. Nikita Woods, who was one of the nation’s top scorers, started the game off on the right foot in the Golden Eagles 6-0 victory.
Woods, (Corrimal, Australia) who was the Region IX player of the year, didn’t slow down at all. She had a hat trick by the 23rd minute of the game with assists from Natalie de Marco, Annie Rolf and Abby Morillon to give LCCC a 3-0 lead.
Twelve minutes into the second half Katie Loken converted on a header to make it 4-0. Taylor Stoeger scored the fifth goal in the 62nd minute and de Marco scored the sixth.
The Golden Eagles would have one day of rest before their next pool play game against ASA Brooklyn. ASA, which was 14-1 this season, were making its first-ever NJCAA national championship appearance.
Due to the structure of pool play and the bracket, the LCCC and ASA Brooklyn game would act as a loser out game. ASA squandered LCCC’s national title hopes with a 7-3 victory.
“They had a very good team and only playing with 11 players after their 12th player got hurt,” coach Jim Gardner said. “They were all international players and individually very talented.”
The Golden Eagles started the scoring first when Stoeger scored on a cross from Maria de Silveira to make it 1-0. ASA Brooklyn responded immediately when Estelle Badoadana scored. The game was tied at two goals a piece heading into halftime after Iana Freitas scored in the 34th minute, and de Silveira responded with a goal of her own in the 39th minute.
LCCC scored the first goal of the second half when Woods scored an unassisted goal in the 48th minute. But it was all ASA Brooklyn from this point on.
“I thought we played well, we gave up some set pieces late in the game against ASA but I really thought we were going to win that game,” Gardner said. “Even when it was 4-3 I thought we had a good chance of coming back and then we gave up a few set pieces and boom, it was 7-3.
The Golden Eagles spent the entire 2017 season preparing for this tournament and unfortunately ran into some great competition. ASA Brooklyn would eventually lose 1-0 in the Championship game to Tyler Community College on an 86th minute goal.
“The girls played as well as they could, we just got matched up against a really good team, I still think we played good and had a chance to win,” Gardner said. “The cards just weren’t there for us.”