"Games sometimes come down to inches," said head coach Brett Polow post game. "Tonight, it came down to inches. It was a great game."
Championship soccer was in the air. #2 ranked Tyler and #6 ranked ASA went toe-to-toe for a full 90 minutes, with only a single goal being scored in the 86th minute. After 85 minutes of scoreless action, Tyler connected on a perfectly placed free kick which snuck by ASA's Leticia Sandoval.
Tyler Junior College came into tonight's matchup with a 23-1 record. Their 24 games played was ranked second in the NJCAA. They also ranked 2nd in the nation with 14 shutouts. Additionally, Tyler finished the season allowing no more than two goals scored in a single game all season. Tyler reached the championship game last season, falling short by two goals. This year, their outcome was different.
Retaliating when down has been a theme for the Avengers, trailing three different times this tournament prior to tonight's game, with equalizers coming within seven minutes each time. Tonight, ASA was unable to respond, although they had the opportunities. Three minutes later, the Avengers were set in a nearly identical spot as the night before. Tamara Queiroz lined up from just outside of the box with the same emotions as one night prior in overtime against #1 Phoenix College. Unfortunately for the Avengers, this time it didn't end with the team storming the field in celebration.
Queiroz had a huge grin on her face postgame, despite the loss. She reflected on the shot, "I just needed a little bit more."
Defensive tournament MVP Andrea Neves was able to get up to Tamara's well placed shot and punch it away. The Avengers would get one more shot with just seconds remaining in the game, but were unable to find the back of the net. The Avengers were again without their second leading scorer Estelle Badoadana due to injury.
Since 2001, no six or higher seed has won the national championship. Head coach Brett Polow reflected on making the championship game, "It was great for us. We've had some really good teams over the years. This was a special group."
Pre game, associate head coach Walter Jaramillo said, "Tyler is going to attack us a lot. They're going to try and use their speed as usual. Our game plan is to hold the ball in the middle third. We're going to look for opportunities to play out of the flank." The Avengers were able to do just that. The Avengers adjusted their formation to a 4-1-4-1, a change of pace for their usual 4-2-3-1, a necessary adjustment based on Tyler's offensive ability, and with ASA's lack of bench depth. Both coaches thought the adjustments worked well and they agreed that this was their team's best performance of the year.
The Avengers played almost the entirety of the tournament with only 12 girls, including Estelle Badoadana who was unable to play in the final two games due to injury.
Tyler Junior College took home national championship titles in both men and women's soccer this year.
Three members of the ASA Avengers were named to the All-Tournament Team.
- Kaylane Araujo (1 Goal, 3 Assists)
- Sara Suarez Quevedo (3 Goals, 1 Assist)
- Tamara Queiroz (4 Goals, 2 Assists)