TEXARKANA, Texas—For the first time since 2018 and third time in its history, the LSUA men’s soccer team has punched its ticket to the NAIA Tournament.
Daniel Torrenegra booted home a shot in the 80th minute to give LSUA a 1-0 victory against in-state rival LSU-Shreveport to win the Red River Athletic Conference Tournament.
Torrenegra was passed the ball by Austin Madubuike and he caught LSUS goalkeeper Louis Owens flat-footed and the freshman booted it past him for the lone goal of the contest.
The freshmen came up in a big way, as all four goals in the RRAC Tournament were scored by freshmen, as Torrenegra and Shaun Spencer each had two.
“This has been the highlight of our season up to this point,” Torrenegra said. “We have been working throughout the season to get to this point and now we’re headed to nationals and let’s see what is going to happen.”
Both freshmen were named to the RRAC All-Tournament team as well. Joining them from the Generals are Alvaro Garcia and Joao Leonel.
“First off, congrats to all the teams that qualified for the RRAC Tournament,” LSUA Men’s Soccer Coach Michael Poropat said. “Every match we have played in the postseason felt like a tournament final and obviously tonight was no different.
“Shreveport is always a top team and are well-coached. It is a fantastic result for our boys. I am so proud of them.”
In 2018, the Generals defeated St. Thomas-Houston 3-1, and in 2016, they knocked off Wiley 1-0 in the title game and gave No. 1 Oklahoma Wesleyan all it could handle in a 1-0 loss in the NAIA Tournament.
Garcia, the star goalkeeper from Madrid, Spain, did not allow a goal in the tournament, stopping all 12 shots he faced in the tournament, including two in the championship match against LSUS.
“I played a big part since I am the keeper,” Garcia said. “But all of my teammates played a huge part. I can’t do this alone.”
It is his 22nd shutout in his decorated LSUA career, adding to his already school-record total.
LSUA (5-5-3) controlled the first half of the opening half. The Generals recorded four shots in the first 16 minutes of action, and led in shots in the opening period 5-3, including shots on goal 3-1.
The best opportunity to score in the opening half came in the 13th minute from the eventual hero, Torrenegra. The freshman had a clean look, but hit shot drilled the crossbar and it was cleared away by the Pilots defense.
LSU-Shreveport controlled the last half of the opening period, recording two of their three shots. The Pilots had a chance to grab the lead themselves after the Pilots stole the ball deep in LSUA territory, but Julius Williams could not convert on the opportunity, shooting it wide.
For the second straight game, the game was scoreless going into halftime.
LSUS (12-6-1), which will now wait to see if it will get in as an at-large, put pressure on the Generals defense in the second half.
Despite LSUS controlling most of the second half, the Generals registered the first two shots of the second half, with Spencer and Ogunjobi attempting the shots.
Ogunjobi’s shot in the 56th minute from left of the box was saved on a nice stop by Owens.
Those were two of the three shots LSUA took in the second half, with the other being Torrenegra’s goal.
While LSUS dominated possession in the second half, its first shot of the final 45 minutes was in the 79th minute when Matt Roberts’ shot was blocked by the Generals. Roberts’ three shots led the Pilots in shot attempts.
Just over a minute later, Ayrton Redmore attempted a shot that went high for the Pilots.
In a packed couple minutes, Torrenegra scored less than a minute off the assist from Madubuike. The goal is Torrenegra’s second of the season, which have both come in the RRAC Tournament.
Madubuike has three points on the season, and they have come in the biggest of moments. His other two points came on a goal with less than a half minute to go to tie Southwest in the regular season finale.
LSUS ramped up the pressure after Torrenegra’s goal and had three shots in the final 10 minutes. In the 85th minute, a corner kick by LSUS’ Gledi Doda bounced out to Roberts, who attempted a shot that went high.
In a last ditch effort to score before the end of regulation, Doda’s corner kick bounced out to Scott Neil, but hit attempt sailed high with 10 seconds to play. When Neil’s shot sailed high, Garcia pumped his fist, knowing the Generals were on their way to the NAIA Tournament.
In addition to Torrenegra’s two shots, Danny Stevens and Juan Dorta also added two apiece.
Now LSUA waits to see where it is headed to begin its quest to win its first men’s soccer national championship. The selection show will be held on April 19 at noon CST on the Play NAIA Facebook page.