(NWACsports.org) The second-ranked Tacoma College Titans won a physical and sometimes chippy NWAC men’s soccer championship in a matchup of two high-octane offenses, defeating the third-ranked Whatcom Community College Orcas by a score of 2-0.
Tacoma head coach Jason Prenovost won the Coach of the Year title, while sophomore forward Alex Whiting won the tournament MVP as they took down the Orcas, who were ranked eleventh in the nation.
Play was stopped for nearly thirty minutes in the 38th minute after a high-speed collision in front of the Tacoma goal. Whatcom forward JungYoun Kim was running towards the edge of the penalty box for a ball in the air, as was Tacoma goalkeeper Evan Brewer. Brewer jumped in the air at the edge of the box, and his knee appeared to contact Kim’s head area.
Kim was taken away by an ambulance to the hospital.
The Titans claimed their first goal in the 18th minute. Freshman forward Masa Fukushima took the ball up off the left side, and found a wide-open Joseph DiCarlo, a fellow freshman forward.
“He called for it, so I passed to him. We have a great connection,” Fukushima said.
DiCarlo was able to one-touch it into the corner, and ran to the corner of the field where he was rushed by his teammates.
After the injury stoppage, Whatcom had a golden chance, as Kim’s substitute, freshman Keegan Rubio, earned a penalty kick. His shot was blasted just high.
As the second half wore on, Whatcom brought the pressure. They were able to notch seven corner kicks and twelve shots in the second half alone. There were several near misses, including a Rubio shot that hit the corner of the crossbar, and a header off of a corner that Brewer just got a hand on to save.
“Our keeper made some awesome saves,” Prenovost said.
Brewer notched eight saves in the game, including three in the last ten minutes as Whatcom fired off six shots in that time frame.
In the 89th minute, the lightning-quick Tacoma forward Bubacar Touray finished the game off, stealing the ball to earn a one-on-one with the Whatcom goalkeeper. With a couple smooth crossover steps, he was alone in front of the goal to tap it in to secure the win.
“He’s a guy we’re lucky to have on our team,” Prenovost said. “That [goal] was something we saw a lot of this year.”
Touray scored 26 goals this year in just 23 games, scoring on an unbelievable 42 percent of his shots.
As the game progressed and the tempo increased, the game became more and more contested, with Brewer placing a hand in the chest of a Whatcom forward who came too close for his liking late in the second half.
“It’s an emotional game. They’re a great team over there, they’re playing for each other,” Prenovost said.
Prenovost credited the adjustments his team made, including adding a second defensive midfielder after the half, for the win. He also thought that his team won the mental game.
“We had to maintain our mental focus,” Prenovost said, “Even if there were challenges all along the way.”
The championship was Tacoma’s third in program history, and their second in the last three years.
“I love these boys. It was a lot of fun,” Prenovost said.
Coach Jason Prenovost and MVP Alex Whiting