By GARY STALLARD
BELLVILLE – The conditions couldn’t have been any more miserable. The result couldn’t have been more beautiful.
In a driving rain, howling winds and frigid temperatures, the sixth-seeded Angelina College Roadrunner men’s soccer team upset No. 3 Blinn College 5-4 in Wednesday’s Region XIV quarterfinal action in Bellville.
The win marks the first-ever post-season victory for any AC soccer team in the program’s four-year history while setting a new men’s mark for wins in a season with eight. This tournament appearance also marks the first time a Roadrunner men’s team has qualified for the playoffs.
The ‘Runners raced out to a 3-0 first-half lead behind goals from Matt Gayle, Ulises Mercado and Edward Alderson, and then the team held off a furious late rally from the Bucs to close out the match and advance to Saturday’s semifinals.
Following two second-half goals from Scott Gray (who contributed two assists as well) and Jack Price – who netted the eventual game winner in the 82nd minute – AC found itself fending off Blinn’s late scoring spree. The Bucs would score a pair of goals in a three-minute span, with Farit Ha converting a penalty kick in the 87th minute to cut the AC lead to 5-4.
The teams then found themselves sent off the pitch when a storm rolled through, resulting in a 45-minute lightning delay with just 2:22 showing on the clock.
When the teams resumed action, Roadrunner defenders were able to prevent the Bucs from creating the equalizer, setting off a long-awaited postseason celebration in the rain.
AC’s men will face No. 1 seed Tyler Junior College at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Tyler. The two teams split their regular-season matches, with Tyler winning 3-0 in Tyler and the ‘Runners taking a 1-0 win in Lufkin.
The winner will qualify for the national tournament scheduled to take place Nov. 18-23 in Tyler.
The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is email@example.com.