Less than a week from knocking the No. 17 ranked team from the national polls, the newly inserted No. 18 ranked Barton Community College men's soccer team found life in the polls a tough one as the shorthanded Cougars fell 1-0 Thursday afternoon at Cloud County Community College. The loss diminishes hope for a share of the Jayhawk title with three conference games remaining as Barton drops into third place at 5-2 and 10-2 on the season while Cloud County takes the points lead in the race improving to 7-2 and 9-2 overall. The Cougars will begin a three game homestand on Saturday taking on Allen County Community College in a 4:00 p.m. kick.
"I take complete responsibility for the loss and costing our team a good chance to win a conference championship," said a dejected Barton Head Soccer Coach Aaron Avila. "My decisions put the team in an extremely tough situation."
Already playing without a key starter due to injury, the Cougars found themselves having to play a man down for the final sixty-six plus minutes. Barton defender Kota Endo, who received an early yellow card, picked up his second yellow card making a tackle with 21:22 remaining in the first half. The Thunderbirds capitalized eleven minutes later on the Cougars' disadvantage as Connor Halpin scored the game winner from Kendy Pierre's through ball with 10:41 left in the first half.
"We were forced to play a man down for three-quarters of the game," Avila said. "We gave up a goal shortly after going down a man in the first half and just wasn't able to get the equalizer the rest of the game."
The Cougars battled and played tough the rest of the way keeping the Thunderbirds from adding to the scoreboard but missed out on its own chances as Cloud only outshot Barton 11-10 in the contest.
"Our guys played extremely hard," said Avila. "We gave Cloud County a very competitive game despite playing shorthanded."