The Tigers took care of business Tuesday.
Now it's a waiting game.
Tallying a two-goal differential win in regulation time, the No. 12 ranked Marshalltown Community College men's soccer team (14-6-1) upended No. 9 Jefferson College (Mo.) 2-0 in pool D play Tuesday - extending their stay at least 24 more hours at the NJCAA Division I National Championships at Darton State College in Albany, Ga.
MCC’s Mach Chuol, left, and Marcus Boehler celebrate Boehler’s second half goal, as Alex Galvan, right, joins them. Boehler scored on a header in the 86th minute during the Tigers’ 2-0 victory over Jefferson College (Mo.) in NJCAA Division I National Championship pool play Tuesday in Albany, Ga.
To advance past Wednesday, MCC needs the fifth-seeded Vikings (14-6-1) to earn at least a two-goal differential regulation win over Tyler (Texas) Junior College (18-2-1) tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the final match of pool play. A 2-0 victory for Jefferson (14-6-1) forces a three-way tie leaving the teams even at 1-1 in pool play and with equal goal differentials. The best-case scenario for MCC involves a two-goal win for the Vikings with both Jefferson and Tyler scoring. That result would send the Tigers to Friday's semifinals based on goals scored against.
Tigers coach Rafael Martinez admitted all the possibilities can be confusing - a major reason why he wanted his squad to enter Tuesday's match with an open mind.
"We knew that 2-0 was the best score, but the approach was - let's take care of this game. Let's focus on this game and win this one for ourselves," said Tigers coach Rafael Martinez, whose squad assured itself at least a fifth place tie.
"I think that's why we won. The players didn't feel pressured and just took care of this one."
Marcus Boehler nailed the critical second goal for the Tigers in the 86th minute, heading a precision pass from Bruno Liozzi into the upper netting. Liozzi, who also set up the team's first goal on a corner kick, raised his team-high season assist total to 11.
Kicking from the left corner, Liozzi floated the ball to the far side where Javier Lopez headed a pass to the near post and Joao de Olivera unleashed a bicycle kick past the Vikings' keeper in the 61st minute.
While Martinez's squad has stressed the importance of playing the ball back to the middle if an open look isn't available - exactly what Lopez did - the Tiger coach couldn't take credit for the second goal.
"It wasn't a play that we had worked on. I'm not going to lie about that," said Martinez. "Javier put the ball back to the middle and luckily Joao's execution was just perfect."
Inconsistency in intensity and losing a majority of 50-50 balls were two issues that dogged the Tigers in Monday's opener against the Apaches, but MCC addressed them with authority against the Vikings.
"We won most of the 50-50 balls and the intensity was so much higher - especially in the midfield. Without a doubt, it was a huge change in our attitude," said Martinez, who felt his team was affected by Tyler's physicality in the opener.
"It was our first game and we played against the most physical team out of the 12 teams here. That made it a very difficult game for us," said Martinez.
Playing against a similar possession-minded Jefferson squad, the Tigers excelled in creating quality looks as all five of their shots were on target in the opening half.
Alfredo Piedra and Juan Castrejon combined for the clean sheet in goal. Playing the majority of the match, Piedra made three saves in the opening stanza and several more key stops later in the second. Castrejon gave Piedra a quick breather late in the first half.
Regardless of what happens in tonight's match, the Tigers took care of their first priority - proving to others and themselves that they belong.
"The theme for tonight was doing our part. Let's not worry about anyone else, let's do this for ourselves," said Martinez.
"We wanted to prove to ourselves that we belong in the group of the best 12 (teams). I think we proved it today."
A three-way tie would set up two tiebreaker games to be held Thursday. The teams would flip coins to determine which team receives a bye to the second "tiebreaking game." The odd coin receives the bye. The other two teams will play a "tiebreaking game" beginning at the start of overtime per NCAA rules. (2 ten minute sudden death overtime periods, followed by PK's). Following a 20 minute break, the winning team advances to the second "tiebreaking game" to play the team that received the bye. Any such tiebreaking games are a continuation of pool play and are considered individual games. Any cards issued will carry the same penalty(ies) as in any other tournament game.