After spending the past 13 years coaching at the college level, newcomer MAJ Kevin Farley kicked off his term as MMA head coach with a splash August 14 – more than 40 soccer camp attendees stood on the steps of Stribling Hall and dumped buckets of ice water over their heads. The event was captured on video and posted to social media as part of a popular campaign to raise awareness for ALS.
FORT ZUMWALT EAST TOURNAMENT
Cadets kicked off the season at the Fort Zumwalt East Tournament on August 23 with an away game verses Duchesne, finishing with a 1-1 tie.
“MMA performed very well for a first match of the season and came from behind to end the match in a 1-1 draw,” Farley said. “I was very impressed with our play and discipline today against a team who was bigger and stronger than us. … I was also very encouraged that our young players played so well. It’s a good start for us.”
The Pioneers scored at the 25-minute mark and were answered soon after. MMA’s lone goal was courtesy of junior Jesus Gracia. Rene Padilla ’16 started the play at midfield, taking possession of the ball and making a quick pass to senior Efrain Perez; Perez then relayed the ball to Gracia, who buried it in the back of the net for the goal.
“I am very proud of the way our boys played and handled themselves in the season opener,” Farley said. “The game was very physical and, at times, very frustrating. However, the guys played as a team and fought through adversity together.”
Junior goalkeeper Gerardo Amezcua ’15 was named Player of the Game. Amezcua successfully defended nearly every goal-scoring opportunity, playing the entire 90 minutes. The scoreboard remained unchanged in the second half.
“The entire defense had an outstanding game on a very hot day,” Farley said. “Be very proud. This group of young men played with class and honor and represented MMA very admirably. … I hope this is a sign of great things to come for this very young team.”
The Colonels returned to St. Peters on August 25 to take on Lutheran High School. After giving up a penalty kick and committing defensive mistakes, the Fighting Colonels lost the match 3-2 to go 0-1-1 on the season.
“MMA had the better talent,” Farley said. “Every time the opposing team scored, MMA came back to even the score – with the exception of the final goal.”
MMA scored its first goal as senior Roger Gonzalez’s shot reflected off the crossbar and freshman Mauricio Vazquez finished it off for his first goal of the season. Soon after, Perez scored from about 20 yards out in the 31st minute of the match. Amezcua tallied 13 saves and logged another 90 minutes in the box.
Their opponent would score a third goal, but the Fighting Colonels could not provide the equalizer before time expired.
The soccer squad lost a close match 2-1 to the Parkway North Vikings on August 28, followed by a disappointing 0-7 road loss to Southern Boone on September 2.
“We knew going into the season that these first four matches would probably be our toughest competition of the season until playoffs,” Farley said. “The boys have faced a hard reality against some elite teams, but they know that the season is a marathon and not a race.”
The Colonels bounced back September 4 with a spectacular 10-0 shut-out victory over Father Tolton in Columbia.
Gracia boasted a hat trick (three goals) while Perez and Gerardo Amezcua each earned two goals. Amezcua scored in the second half after spending the first 45 minutes minding the net, making two saves. He tallied 25 minutes on the field in the second half, leaving the goal in the hands of Elizondo.
Freshman Daniel Amezcua made his mark on the scoreboard alongside seniors Marroquin and Gonzalez; the trio netted one goal apiece. Rene Padilla ’15 and Marroquin assisted on three goals each, while Jensen earned an assist.
For the second game in a row, the Fighting Colonels blanked their opponent. MMA triumphed 8-0 in their first home game of the season, toppling the Elsberry Indians despite rainy conditions.
Marroquin and Perez each scored three goals, boasting hat tricks – Perez’s performance earned him The Mexico Ledger’s Male Athlete of the Week title. Gerardo Amezcua started as keeper, leaving the goal box to score on a penalty kick at the 60-minute mark – junior Christian Paz followed four minutes later with a goal of his own. Rene Padilla provided three assists while Fletes and Jensen contributed one each.
“The boys are finally gaining confidence in what we are doing as a team,” Farley said. “In our first few matches, I feel like our players didn’t believe in what we were doing as a program and they didn’t believe in themselves, resulting in a lot of individual play. They are now playing as a team. … They have the talent to possess the ball and the past two games have demonstrated that. We have scored 18 goals in two games because we are working together and not playing as individuals.”
The MMA Fighting Colonels squad claimed its third shut-out victory September 11 with a 5-0 home win against the Fulton Hornets. The victory boosted the team’s tally to 23 goals scored and zero goals against over three matches.
Gracia, Gonzalez and Perez scored the Colonels’ three first-half goals; Rene Padilla and Marroquin finished up with two points in the second half. Gonzalez, Fletes, Marroquin and Padilla provided assists.
“The guys continue to impress me with their belief in what we are doing as a program,” Farley said. “The style of play that I have encouraged is much different than what they are accustomed to, yet they are beginning to see how effective it is.”
Junior varsity players also walked away with a shut-out, earning their first victory of the season 6-0. David Lazcano netted two goals; Patricio Guiot, Juan Glassford, Nanni De Valle and Raul Correa contributed one goal each.
FIGHTING COLONELS FALTER
The team’s winning streak came to an end as cadets were defeated 0-6 by Christian Brothers College High School by on September 13.
“This game will make us even stronger,” Farley said. “We continue to move in the positive direction even with this loss. The players stayed positive. They worked hard.”
MMA rebounded September 16 by upsetting Fatima 3-0 in a home victory. Gerardo Amezcua guarded the goal in the 90-minute shut-out, limiting the Comets to only five shots – the Fighting Colonels fired back with 35 shots at Fatima’s goal.
Gonzalez scored in the first fifteen minutes on an assist from Gracia. The second goal came near the 32-minute mark when Jensen settled a rebound and drove the ball into the back of the net. Christian Paz added the third goal near the 64-minute mark off a pass from Jensen.
Cadets fell to the Pirates 3-2 on September 23 – MMA held Hannibal to zero shots in the first half, but couldn’t compensate for their opponent’s three goals in the second half. Perez and Gracia scored once, while Perez and Jensen each earned an assist.
BACK IN BUSINESS
Cadets got back on track September 25 verses Mexico High School, emerging the victor with a 6-0 shut-out win and 38 total shots.
Gracia picked up two goals in the first half, scoring at the five-minute mark on a pass from Gonzalez and again at the 26-minute mark unassisted. The junior also provided an assist for Marroquin’s first-half goal.
In the second half, Gonzalez both found the net solo and assisted on Rene Padilla’s goal. Gonzalez scored a second point at the 78-minute mark off an assist by Alejandro Gastelum.
Gerardo Amezcua spent all 80 minutes in goal for MMA, stopping six goal attempts and recording his second shut-out of the season.
Farley’s Fighting Colonels faced Elsberry for the second time September 29, proving victorious once more with a 0-9 win.
“We have much more confidence going into games at this time of the year,” Farley said. “It was really nice to play a team that we have met earlier in the season so that the boys could see the progress they have made.”
MMA made 27 shots against the Indians, including 13 on goal. Marroquin scored at the four-minute mark on an assist from Efrain Perez; Perez then scored at the 13-minute mark on an assist by Gonzalez. Thanks to assists by Marroquin, Jensen scored on a header near the 19th minute and Gonzalez added a goal at the 44-minute mark.
On a pass by Gracia, Perez picked up his second goal, followed by Fletes’ first goal of the season off an assist by Marroquin. Gerardo Amezcua scored on a header, thanks to an assist by Estrada. Cadets would also benefit from an “own goal” after Felix Paz hit a low cross shot that ricocheted off a defender and hit the net.
The final goal came at the 71-minute mark when Gracia scored unassisted. Gerardo Amezcua spent 50 minutes in goal and collected four saves; Elizondo took over for the final 30 minutes and made one save.
Though it wasn’t quite a shut-out, the Colonels dominated Father Tolton on October 7 in an 8-2 win on their home turf.
MMA took 23 shots on goal while limiting Father Tolton to eight. Gerardo Amezcua spent 57 minutes in goal with four saves and no goals allowed; Elizondo spent 23 minutes in goal with two saves and two goals allowed.
Jensen picked up a hat trick for his three goals. The first came on an assist by Jesus Gracia, the second from a penalty kick and the third was unassisted.
Felix Paz had two goals on the night – the first thanks to a low cross by Jensen, the second off a header from a throw in by Garcia.
Also scoring goals for the Fighting Colonels were Efrain Perez (unassisted), Roger Gonzalez (unassisted) and Amezcua (77′) on a pass from Gastelum.
Gonzalez scored MMA’s first goal on a cross from Marroquin in the seventh minute. Amezcua came out of the goal at the 30-minute mark to score via penalty kick.
Cadets wrapped up their regular season October 21 with an 8-0 win over Smithton in which MMA took 68 shots and the Tigers took none.
Three Colonels had two goals apiece: Felix Paz on assists by Jensen and Gastelum; Jensen on a pass by Gastelum and unassisted; and Gracia on assists by Marroquin and Estrada. Marroquin and Ayala scored one point each.
“It feels good to get our tenth win of the season, especially after winning 10 of our last 12 matches,” Farley said. “The guys have a lot of confidence, but they also know that we have several areas to improve upon. … We can now focus on district playoffs.”
MMA finished the regular season with a 10-5-1 record, moving on to the MSHSAA Class 2, District 8 playoffs as the No. 1 seed. In what Farley called a “devastating and heartbreaking loss,” the Colonels fell 2-1 to the No. 4-seeded Kirksville Tigers on October 27.
Gracia evened out the score in the 55th minute off an assist by Marroquin, but Kirksville proved victorious. The Tigers’ winning goal came just two minutes into the overtime period. Goalkeeper Gerardo Amezcua saved 6 of 8 shots on goal.
“Our boys put a lot of pressure on themselves and that resulted in an early exit in the playoffs,” Farley said. “But this is only the beginning, we have a ton of talent and have a bright future. I am really proud of the progress that our boys made this season.”
A few weeks after the end of the season, four student-athletes were named to the MSHSAA Class 2, District 8 All-District soccer teams. Sophomore midfielders Jesus Gracia and Rene Padilla were named to the first team; senior midfielder Efrain Perez and sophomore defender Alejandro Gastelum were named to the second team.