Late goal lifts Harford past Cloud County Community College

Late goal lifts Harford past Cloud County Community College

Alexandria Adams raced up the right side and was just about to pass the ball to one of her Harford Community College teammates when she heard the voices of her coach, Jason Muffoletto.

"You got it. You got it. Take it yourself," Adams said she heard Muffoletto say.

And shoot it she did.

"Right when I released the shot, I knew," Adams said. "I felt it. I could just tell it was going in."

Adams' goal, which came in the 85th minute, gave the No. 7 Fighting Owls a 2-1 victory over No. 11 Cloud County Community College on the second day of pool play at the NJCAA Women's Soccer National Championship Tournament at Eastern Florida State College.

Harford goalkeeper Crystal Kline also came up big for the Fighting Owls (19-1), making several key saves in the game's final moments.

"We didn't play our best," Muffoletto said. "We had a hard time finding our rhythm. But as (we've done) game in and game out, we were able to find a way to grind it out and get the result.

"It wasn't the prettiest. It wasn't the best that we've played. But we found a way."

Harford came into Tuesday's game leading the nation not only in goals scored (138), but also shots (662) and shutouts (15). And not many programs can boast four players – Rachel Bohli (27), MacKenzie Forsythe (22), Adams (22) and Mackenzie Wills (20) – who have all scored at least 20 goals this season.

But the Fighting Owls certainly got a tough challenge from the Thunderbirds from Cloud County Community College, which had dropped its pool play opener to Tyler 5-1 on Monday.

After a scoreless first half, Harford's Bohli put the Fighting Owls on the board in the 62nd minute.

But just when it looked like Harford would post shutout No. 16, Cloud County's Angie Vergara delivered a perfect corner kick that was put home by Abigail Conway to tie the game at 1-1 with just over 10 minutes to play.

"They were really composed on the ball," Muffoletto said. "They're body language, at times, kind of slowed us down because they were so composed on the ball.

"They were definitely tough. They had a lot to play for. They didn't want to go back 0-2. Everyone's a champion. We knew it wasn't going to be easy."

As for the decision to instruct Adams to take the shot instead of looking for the pass, Muffoletto said he simply liked the matchup.

"We felt we were faster than them overall," he said. "We saw that they were getting tired and we just wanted to go at them, make these girls defend and make them chase us and catch us.

"Alex got a hell of a shot off."

After watching his team fall behind 4-1 in the first half against Tyler in a game where he complained about his team's fitness, Cloud County coach James Ross was much more pleased by the effort of his team on Tuesday.

"It was much better today," Ross said. "But I know what we need to work on for next year. Technical, skillful … all that's here. I need athletes.

"(Harford's) back four probably saved 3-4 goals purely (because they were) more athletic."

It has been a remarkable season just making it to the national tournament. The program was shut down in 2014 and brought back last November.

Now they've really got something to build off of.

"That's the plan," Ross said. "We'll be back. But to compete with the Tylers and the Eastern Floridas, I've got to bring in more athletes. The group I brought in, they're total class on the ball, (they have) technical skill and all that. But you've got to have athletes at the national tournament as you can see."

While Cloud County heads home with an 0-2 record in pool play, Harford will return to EFSC to play No. 2 Tyler on Wednesday at 12:30 with a spot in the national semifinals on the line.

Muffoletto is hoping the team's non-conference schedule has prepared them for the big stage.

"We dominated our region and we had a really tough out-of-conference schedule," he said. "We were always really able to respond to our out-of-conference schedule. We played a couple of nationally ranked teams and beat them.

"It's always good to be tested, and we always sort of respond. … Whenever I challenge them, they take it personal."

The NJCAA is livestreaming all tournament matches through a pay-per-view plan at and the NJCAA offers four pricing options.