By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Toledo, Ohio---Matt Almester's (St. John's Jesuit/Toledo, Ohio) third hat trick in six games led the Owens Community College men's soccer team past Jackson College 4-1 in a Region XII tournament quarterfinal today at Owens.
It was the first postseason hat trick in Owens men's soccer history.
Owens is now 13-7-1 overall, but 9-0-1 in its past 10 games entering Saturday's Region XII semifinal against Ancilla College at 12 p.m. The semifinals and finals will be held at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio.
Almester converted a cross from Hector Aguirre Jr. (Rossford/Rossford, Ohio) at the 22:56 mark to give Owens an early lead. Akeem McCarthy (Cornwall College/Montego Bay, Jamaica) then gave Owens a two-goal lead five minutes later when he also converted a cross, this time from Josiah McCloud (Monclova Christian/Toledo, Ohio).
In the second half, Almester scored his second and third goals at the 61:06 and 74:19 marks to give Owens a 4-0 lead. The final one was unassisted.
Kyle Rowan (Perrysburg/Perrysburg, Ohio) made nine saves in goal before giving up a penalty kick goal to Noah Jansen with 40 seconds left. In doing so, he ended his program record scoreless streak at 526 minutes and 10 seconds. He had not given up a goal since Oct. 10 in a 2-1 win against Jackson.
McCarthy now has six goals in the team's past four games. He pushed his total to 11 in his first collegiate season. He also picked up his fourth assist this year on Almester's first goal of the second half. Aguirre Jr. increased team lead in assists with his eighth of the season, while McCloud's assist was his fourth of the season.
Carlos Fernandes made three saves in goal for Jackson.
Owens has allowed just four goals during its 9-0-1 stretch. The team is 0-2 against Ancilla this year, but both losses were by just one goal and came before the team's current 10 game stretch.
In today's other quarterfinal, Cincinnati State defeated Muskegon 2-1. They advance to face Schoolcraft College in Saturday's other semifinal.
The winners of each semifinal will meet Sunday in the Region XII championship with a berth in the district championship against the winner of the Region XX tournament on the line. The winner of the district championship advances to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I National Tournament.
Today was Almester's fourth hat trick this year and the fifth of his career. The sophomore now has 22 goals and four assists this year. He bumped his career totals to 40 goals and eight assists. In doing so, he inched closer to Glenroy Miller's third place career goal total of 42. He also inched closer to Miller in career points. Almester is eight away from passing Miller's third place total of 95.
Almester's offensive prowess allowed Owens to pick up its first ever Region XII quarterfinal win. The program had previously been 0-3 when having to play a quarterfinal game, including a 4-3 overtime loss to Lake Michigan College last year. It was also the fifth postseason win in program history and the four goals tied the team's single game postseason record also held by the 2013 team (4-2 win over Muskegon in Region XII semifinals) and the 2000 team (5-4 OT loss to Columbus State in Region XII semifinals).
Owens finished just 40 seconds away from just the program's second postseason shutout. The only one in program history came in a 0-0 (5-4 PK) win over Schoolcraft College in the 2005 Region XII semifinals.