Patriots defeat Ragsdale in First Round of Soccer Playoffs 2-1

Jose Menjivar blasting a shot at the net. (Ron Morris)
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Patriots Jonny Mwembya ready to smash a shot on goal. (Ron Morris)
David Martinez matriculates ball downfield. (Ron Morris)
Jonny Mwembya maneuvers ball around net for winning goal. (Ron Morris)
Patriots Ryan Howe setting up a pass. (Ron Morris)

The Independence Patriots played a home playoff game and defeated the Ragsdale Tigers from Jamestown, North Carolina in the first round of the 2019 playoffs. The team played into the third round last season and is expected to be competitive again this year with the potential of more of the same.

The Patriots who are the number 12 seed in the Western 4A Division bracket took on the number 25 seed in the west. The home team dominated the time of possession throughout the contest while applying pressure on their opponent.

Coached by Tyler Gibson, the boys from Independence played aggressively, took control and managed to set the pace of the game. They passed with precision at times and showed good teamwork while setting up solid offensive plays.

They ran up against a good and athletic goalkeeper who kept the Tigers in the match all night frustrating numerous goal scoring attempts on fast breaks and rushes at the net with a 2 on 1 or 3 on 1 advantage. Also, on two occasions the Patriots unselfish swarming team attack style seemed to add one extra pass to many instead of taking an apparent shot opportunity.

The Patriots had two apparent goals nullified based on offside calls made by the officials. With one call being extremely questionable, if it was not called, it would have prevented some anxious moments in the final minutes of the game.

In the first half, the Patriots David Martinez scored the initial goal 23 minutes into the match on some nifty passes received from Ro Bik Lian and Jonny Mwembya. They set-up a hard smash drilled and delivered from Martinez past the diving Tiger goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.

The score remained unchanged at the intermission, however, the Patriots took 9 shots with 5 shots on goal, while their opponent took a total of 7 shots with 4 shots on goal. The time of possession advantage favored Independence who had a 23 to 17 minute edge in the first half.

In the second half, the two teams made some adjustments on defense, while the Patriots offense controlled the tempo of the match for the majority of the half until the final 10 minutes in the game.

At the 57 minute mark in the contest, Jonny Mwembya would score off another assist from Ro Bik Lian to give the Patriots a more comfortable 2-0. Mwembya blasted a shot into the right corner of the net for what would turnout to be the game winner.

Suddenly, at the 70:00 minute mark in the match, the Tigers would score off a rebound shot as the defense hesitated instead of challenging the goal scorer who pushed the ball just past the diving Patriot goalkeeper Daniel Locklear to make the score 2-1 with 10 minutes remaining in the match.

The Tigers who were now newly energized by the sudden goal, started to apply more pressure on the Patriots defense taking two more shots and one extra shot on goal which was saved by Locklear. He smothered the ball, not allowing a chance at a rebound shot, with a Tiger player ready to pounce on a potential rebound just a few feet away from the net and 54 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Patriots took 6 shots in the second half with 1 shot on goal, while the Tigers had 3 shots with 2 shots on goal. The time of possession was again in favor of the Patriots who had a 22 minute to 18 minute advantage.

The Patriots will take on Hough in the second round on the road and try to move deeper into the state tournament to the third round for their second consecutive year.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
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