By PAUL GOTHAM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – They can count the number of games remaining in the regular season on one hand, and the Monroe Community College men’s soccer might just be hitting their stride at the right time.
Four different Tribunes found the back of the net, and MCC dispatched a road-weary Cuyahoga Community College, 4-0 in NJCAA action Sunday on John L. DiMarco Field.
With an offense finding its rhythm, the Tribunes controlled the pitch against a Cuyahoga squad which traveled from Michigan after beating Jackson College on Saturday.
“It’s how they wanted it,” Monroe head coach Nelson Cupello said of Cuyahoga CC. “I wasn’t particularly crazy about that for our guys because I didn’t want them to think this was going to be an easy game.”
The Tribune 11 made sure to ease their coach’s worries.
“We’ve worked on that all week long, to be able to find that space,” Cupello explained. “They’re in a triangle with Kevin at the head of it underneath the forwards. There’s constant moving and running, creating space all the time.”
Sullivan used that space to set up the Tribs’ first goal. The freshman midfielder played a pass over the Cuyahoga backline for Ethan Witkowski, and the 6-foot-2 forward capitalized.
“It was a high ball,” Witkowski said. “I thought it was going to go too close to the goal, but I wanted to challenge it anyway, just to put pressure on the goalkeeper.”
Witkowski’s presence caused Cuyahoga keeper, Richard Smith, to mishandle the ball. Less than one minute after taking a Matt Englert feed and sending a blast over the crossbar, Witkowski turned left and tucked his third goal of the season inside the near post.
“I kinda bumped him a little bit because he didn’t have control of the ball yet,” Witkowski noted. “It was fair game. When it came down out of his hands. I just looked around turned to the left.”
Cameron Welling doubled the advantage in the closing moments of the first half. Sulemane Sey lofted a pass through the Cuyahoga backline, and Welling gathered the ball in the air along the left side of the 18-yard box and finished with a volley.
“We have to go out there and regardless of what the opposition did the day before, we just got to play hard,” Cupello stated. “We have to make sure that we get results, and we did. We played well. The kids were knocking the ball around as well as I’ve seen all season.”
Kabongo gave Monroe a commanding lead less than six minutes into the second half when the freshman midfielder split a pair of Cuyahoga defenders off the dribble along the left wing and found the opposite side netting for a 3-0 advantage.
“Any time I got the ball on the side, coach just told me to ‘drive at them. Drive at them.’ That one play I saw the defender was isolated on me, so I just took him one-on-one, created some space. When the second defender came in, I had to improvise on that one and just popped in the back of the net.”
“There is a good mix of guys who we can use interchangeably if guys are tired or hurt,” Cupello said. “I’m not going to hesitate to pull somebody off the bench. Today was a good chance for some of these guys get a look.”
Kyle Bimek made two saves for the shutout. Monroe has allowed just one goal over its last four contests.
Monroe outshot Cuyahoga 28-6. The Challengers took seven corner kicks to six for the home 11.
Cuyahoga fell to 11-7 with the loss.
The win was the fourth straight for Monroe which is 8-1-1 over the last 10 games and 8-3-2 overall. The Tribunes host Roberts Wesleyan JV on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. kickoff before closing the regular season next Saturday against regional foe Mercyhurst NE.
Monroe: Kyle Bimek, Ethan Witkowski, Kevin Keabongo, Anthony Paris, Ryan Gray, Benjamin Parris, Jordan Sullivan, Matthew Englert, Sulemane Sey, Matt Murray and Andriy Demydiv.
Cuyahoga: Richard Smith, Jonathan Kleinen, Sean Morgan, Rushoy Brown, Merouane Sadi, Johansson Mathe, Andre Lowe, Terrence Edwards, Kemor Turner, Abdoulaye Dia and Josue Waag.