The many adjectives describing the 2018 version of the Barton Community College men's soccer were on full display Friday in Dayton, Florida, as the 3rd ranked Cougars rallied with three late goals to defeat 4th ranked Eastern Florida State College 4-3 in the NJCAA semifinals of Division I soccer.
The cardiac Cougars trailed 2-1 in the final eight minutes on the Daytona State College pitch before rattling the nets three times in less than three minutes putting Barton into the national championship game for the first time in program history while ending the Titans' season at 15-5-1.
Now 21-1-2 on the year, Barton will face top ranked 25-2 Pima Community College in the Saturday 3:00 p.m. kick-off for the trophy. Both teams will bring a seventeen game unbeaten streak to the title game with both making their first ever championship game appearance.
Barton trailed early as the Titans broke behind the defense beating Felipe Baeza 1v1 just 3:01 into the game.
The unrattled Cougars steadied the ship through the mid-point when the second wave of players hit the pitch with 22:20 remaining in the half. Ramping up the tempo it was starter Chris Camilli who provided the equalizer launching a 25-yard rocket to the upper-90 with 19:19 left.
An unlucky break would put Eastern Florida back into the lead with 3:34 remaining as Barton was called for a foul in the box resulting in a penalty kick strike to the upper-90 just over the reach of a diving Baeza.
A disappointed but positive-vibe team approach was consistent throughout the halftime break as Head Coach Mike Brown concluded the intermission adjustment meeting with the words "If you want it, it's not going to be given to you, you have to go get it."
It took the Cougars thirty minutes of attack to convert into scoring, but the quick strike Cougars "went after it" and did damage in a hurry.
Barton was not content with the tying goal as Coach Brown's strategy stayed firm as the Cougars kept the fierce attack on the Titan defense. Eighty-five seconds later Gabriel "Game Winner" Arraes struck the heart of the net putting away Marcu's through ball for one of his many difference making goals this season setting off a huge celebration in the corner of the field.
Smelling blood in the water, Barton kept its full attack mode in full force as Marcu's doorstep net shaker following up a rebounded shot provided the final dagger with 4:59 remaining on the clock.
As part of "Team 24" throughout the playoff season, Barton received numerous contributions up and down the lineup that don't show up in a game's boxscore. One notable contribution of many was the "heads up" play of sophomore Hiroo Kimura in first half action by sinking back defensively to guard the near post and delivering a critical goal saving header thwarting a Titan attack.
Barton's second national semifinal appearance matched the third place finish in 2010 as the Cougars were led by now Eastern Florida's Head Coach Oliver Twelvetrees who also guided Barton to a 7th place finish the year prior in 2009 as well.
The Cougars' first national tournament appearance came in its second year of existence as Joe Burger's 2002 squad earned a 7th place finish.