18 Nov Bulldogs face Hill after 2-0 loss Monday
By MICHAEL PARSONS / EFSC Athletic Communications
BREVARD COUNTY, FL – The Lewis & Clark Trailblazers were down three starters coming into Monday’s opening round of pool play at the NJCAA Women’s Soccer Championship Tournament.
But when you have a player like sophomore Boitumelo Rabale, you’ve always got a shot.
Rabale, the nation’s leading goal-scorer, added two more to bring her season total to 54 as the fourth-seeded Trailblazers defeated No. 9 Navarro 2-0 at Orlando Health Stadium on the campus of Eastern Florida State College.
“I just thought we hung in there,” Lewis & Clark coach Tim Rooney said. “We did what we had to do. Our numbers are down because of injuries and that kind of stuff.
“I thought Navarro really put some pressure on us. There was one time where they must have had four or five shots in a row. But we know if we can get some corners, some free kicks … those kind of restarts … I know we’re dangerous. And that’s kind of the way it played out.”
Rabale’s first goal came in the 34th minute on a corner kick from teammate Emma Lucas. Rabale was able to take a step back to create some room between herself and the defender and the put a header into the back of the net.
Her second goal came on a free kick from 35 yards out that Rabale was able to lift over a wall of defenders and curl into the top left side.
“I like taking them,” Rabale said of the long free kick. “I know I can get them in the goal.”
Overall, Rabale thought the Trailblazers (20-2) played well, especially after getting a tough test from Navarro.
“This game was not easy,” she said. “We know all the teams that came here are well prepared. We had to work hard and make sure we worked as a team.”
The Trailblazers also needed some strong play in goal from Mercedes King, who was credited with four saves.
Navarro (14-5) actually outshot Lewis & Clark 15-8 but the Bulldogs – who got some strong play from Manami Okada, Annalise Rangel and Tateyana Pitter – couldn’t break through.
“I thought we put up a good fight,” Bulldogs coach Alicia Wilson said. “We were just unlucky. We hit the post in the first half. We had several opportunities in the second half. We missed a goal that we have to bury. In this tournament, you have to score on those opportunities.
“I thought (Lewis & Clark) were quite efficient on two set pieces. It’s hard to get those two goals against us. It’s just unfortunate for us. We just have to recover these kids and get ready for a game tomorrow.”
Navarro is set to play No. 5 seed Hill College on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. Lewis & Clark is scheduled to return Wednesday against Hill. That game is also set for 12:30 p.m.