DONALDSON – Two first half goals by freshman striker JaCoby Smith helped the Ancilla College men’s soccer team earn a 2-2 double overtime draw with Muskegon Community College on Saturday in NJCAA Region 12 conference play.
Smith struck in the 20th and 36th minutes of the game for Ancilla (6-4-1, 6-4-1 Region 12), pushing his season total to 10 goals on the campaign.
“We knew this would be a tricky match for us,” said Ancilla men’s soccer coach James Drzewiecki. “We were dealing with more than our fair share of injuries and Muskegon is a quality side. Getting that early advantage was very important for us.”
Smith opened scoring by finishing his own rebound after Jayhawks keeper Tyler Lane stopped his initial effort. Sixteen minutes later, Smith demonstrated his speed and strength, running onto a long punt from Alex Howe and fighting off two Muskegon defenders for his second goal of the match.
“Both goals were a perfect example of what JaCoby can do for us up top,” said Drzewiecki. “There aren’t many players who have the strength and pace to score those goals.”
Muskegon pulled a goal back in the 69th minute on a Juan Medina shot that deflected the wrong way past Howe and equalized in the 78th minute when Travis DiPiazza finished a cross from Nathan Schmitt.
The Chargers nearly won it late in regulation when an errant clearance by Lane found Ancilla’s Junior Ballard. With the keeper out of position, Ballard curled his 35 yard effort just inches wide of the post, sparing the Muskegon defense plenty of blushes.
If there was one weakness in Drzewiecki’s side, it was the lack of defensive-minded players at his disposal. Four key players were ruled out with injury before the match, leaving Ancilla with a makeshift defense of sorts.
“Really, it’s hard to fault our backs on the goals, and I thought they put in some great efforts,” said Drzewiecki. “Juan Delgado and Kevin Vilcas were fantastic at the center back and did a great job of keeping Schmitt under wraps throughout the match. I thought we had some excellent play from Matthew Willinger as well, and Manny Perez helped run a very efficient midfield in his first start of the year. The goals were unfortunate, but there were plenty of positives as well.”
Ancilla returns to action on Saturday when they host NJCAA Region 12 rival Cuyahoga Community College. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EDT.