Coastal Bend men’s soccer coach Adam Butler converted the most hardened non-believer – himself – into a believer during his team’s regular-season finale at home in Beeville.
Butler’s boys added another first to an already mile-long list of them, winning the program’s first-ever Region XIV regular season championship thanks to a 2-1 victory over Blinn.
“If you had told me that this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed it to be honest with you,” Butler said after his team’s postgame celebration, which included several rousing renditions of the popular chant “¡Campeones!, ¡Campeones!, Olé, Olé, Olé.”
“It’s a credit to the president, to the athletic director, to all of my boys.”
The title-clinching victory was Coastal Bend’s fifth straight, a streak that is also a program first.
“If you had told me we’d be here, I wouldn’t have believed you, so I can never underestimate this group,” Butler said.
The Cougars are now 9-3-2 on the season. They will head into the NJCAA Gulf South District Championship as the No. 2 seed behind LSU-Eunice, which was ineligible to win the regular season crown after a vote of the region’s athletic directors because the Bengals had never been formally approved to join the region by a majority vote before the season.
The winner of the district title earns a bid to the NJCAA national tournament.
“Never write us off,” Butler said when asked if he felt his team could win the national championship, after first laughing and saying he didn’t think they could win a regional crown.
“We’re just trying to be the best that we can each day, and we take it one step at a time,” the coach added about the team’s approach to the district tournament.
The Cougars grabbed the lead in the first half against Blinn and led 1-0 at halftime. They pushed their lead to 2-0 midway through the second half before Blinn got its lone goal on a long-range shot after catching Cougar goalie Harry Scott too high in the box, which left him unable to get back to stop the shot.
Scott turned everything away after that, though, securing the victory.
His presence in net, Butler said, is what has spelled the difference for the Cougars in 2021.
“He’s big time. He controls his box. He’s loud. He’s aggressive,” Butler said of his goalie, who has allowed just 15 goals all season and has been in net for seven of the team’s nine wins this year.
“He’s really stepped up for us this season, and that’s been one of the big differences between last year and this year.”
A couple of important intangibles have helped as well, Butler added.
“We’ve got a lot of spirit. We’ve got a lot of heart. And you can’t beat that sometimes,” the coach said.
The team, Butler said, has also been driven to succeed as a way of honoring a teammate who is always with them in spirit.
“I always say it’s our No. 12, our boy, Joe Aspinall, who we lost last year. We’re doing it every day for him.”
The district tournament is slated to begin this week with the higher-seeded team hosting in all matches. The matchups were unavailable at press time.
CBC 1, LSU-Eunice 0
Upsets of nationally-ranked teams have become something of a norm for Coastal Bend, and the Cougars notched another win of that variety on May 11, knocking off No. 4 LSU-Eunice 1-0 in Beeville.
It was the team’s fourth of the season over a nationally-ranked team. The Cougars also own two wins over Tyler and a win over Northeast Texas, who were both ranked each time CBC beat them this season.
The Cougars, who were ranked 15th in the most recent national poll, beat the Bengals on the strength of a 30th-minute goal in the first half.
Donal Rahill headed a ball past LSU-Eunice goalie Vinicius Cadengue off a corner kick from Caio Oliveira for the only goal of the contest.
Scott kept his sheet clean in net, stopping all six shots he faced from the Bengals on the afternoon to get the win.
The win avenged CBC’s 2-1 loss to the Bengals last month.
CBC 3, Jacksonville 2
The Cougars overcame a 2-1 halftime deficit to beat Jacksonville in overtime May 7 in Beeville.
Oliveira got CBC’s first goal in the fourth minute with Gabriel Campora recording the assist.
In the second half, Campora converted a feed from Ryan Lewis into the match equalizer in the 65th minute to make it 2-2.
Campora won it for the Cougars in overtime, sliding one past Jacksonville goalie Erick Rojas off a feed from Owen Thomas in the 93rd minute.
Scott allowed two goals and made six saves to earn the win in net.