WEST COLUMBIA — Off to one of its better starts in program history, the Columbia Roughneck soccer team beat Columbus to win the Colorado County Tournament.
Playing at Rice Consolidated’s Veterans Memorial Stadium it, Columbia’s Juan Aguilar had the lone goal Saturday in the 1-0 championship victory.
“I don’t remember winning a tournament since I’ve been here,” Columbia head coach Michael Denbow said.
Denbow took over the position in 2008. From 2001 through 2007 the Columbia soccer team only won 12 matches.
“At this tournament, it was a collection of schools our size which could have been a factor, but we could all play each other,” Denbow said. “It was fun watching the kids because they had a blast. We also spent a lot of time together and it was good to seem them bond.”
The Columbus Cardinals handed Columbia its only loss in the tournament Friday afternoon, 2-0.
“I thought in this match against them we possessed the ball better,” Denbow said. “In that first game, we tried playing too much open style, which hurt us. I talked to them about that on the way home on Friday, that we needed to control the pace of the game.”
Columbia opened the tournament Thursday in the Red pool with a 1-0 victory against Bay City. The Roughnecks won their first two matches by shutout, 3-0 over Hempstead and 2-0 against Smithville, before falling to Columbus.
“I thought our keepers really stepped it up this past weekend with Colton Eubanks and Houston Cook,” Denbow said. “Both made some saves and Colton had one save where the ball was going in, but he full stretched and the ball hit the crossbar after swatting it away. So he saved us there, and Houston blocked a penalty kick versus Columbus in our first game with them. So that was big for us.”
In the semifinals, the Roughnecks got by rival Sweeny, 1-0.
“It was surreal because we are used to playing Sweeny in front of a lot of rowdy fans,” Denbow said. “Now the fans that were there were there to watch other teams, but while our game was going on, those fans were getting into our game. It still felt emotional even though we were at a neutral site.”
Lane Fields scored the winning goal against the Bulldogs, but also played a crucial role in preventing Sweeny from earning scoring opportunities.
“We mostly wanted to control Sweeny’s speed, and the only way we could do that was to limit the long ball,” Denbow said. “That’s where Lane Fields did his job. Even though at times he’d lose possession, he’d come right back and win the ball again. It was his aggressiveness which led to our winning goal.”
Also scoring goals for Columbia during the tournament were Juan Rosas with three; Fields scored twice; and Andres Mata and Aguilar each scored once. Getting assists were Rosas, Fields, Diego Olguin and Justin Bess. Eubanks and Cook combined to have five clean sheets.
Gareth Atherton and Joelewis Guerrero also played well on defense.
“It has been our best start, but we have a long way to go and it is a grind,” Denbow said. “So we are just going to take it one match at a time and not try to look too far ahead.”
Columbia will travel Thursday to Needville for its next match.