Against all the odds, the unranked Montgomery College Raptors women's soccer team (7-7) claimed the 2017 NJCAA DIII Region XX Championship this past weekend at Anne Arundel Community College. The Raptors defended their Region XX Title by defeating the higher seed Howard CC Dragons (9-5-1) by a score of 5-1 in the semifinal and Anne Arundel CC Riverhawks (9-5-1) 3-1 in the final to win the program's first back-to-back Region XX/District H Title under Head Coach Phil Nana.
The semifinal match was scoreless through the first 45 minutes of play, but after an adjustment at halftime the Raptors jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals from Gabriella Fernandez and Gaelin Hirabayashi within the first 20 minutes of the second half. The Dragons' Nikki Viera, quickly cut the Raptors lead in half in the 67th minute but the Raptors were undeterred, and Viviana Rodriguez capitalized as she snuck through the Riverhawks defense to score an unassisted goal four minutes later. Yasmine Argubie scored her first goal of the season off a beautiful header served up by Nicole Godoy, and no more than 90 seconds later Fernandez would score her second goal of the match to wrap up a dominant second half.
The Raptors were relentless, despite wet and rainy conditions, during the Region XX Championship game against the host school Anne Arundel CC. Gaelin Hirabayashi led the way for her teammates and set the pace for the Raptors in the match as she recorded her first hat trick of her career. Montgomery's only sophomore and returner from last year's team, Hirabayashi scored the game's first goal in the fourth minute and once more before halftime. The Riverhawks tested MC's back line, but MC's back line was steadfast through several attempts. AACC capitalized on one run at goal to score in the 62nd minute, twenty minutes later Hirabayashi took the ball from the AACC defense and ripped a left footed shot over the goalkeepers head to complete the three-goal performance.
The Raptors will represent Region XX and District H at the 2017 NJCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship November 9-12, in Dryden, New York on the campus of Tompkins Cortland Community College. MC is the #7 seed entering the tournament and they will be playing #2 Brookhaven (TX) (11-3-1) at 3pm on Thursday Nov. 9 in the opening round of the tournament. Be sure to follow @MC_Raptors on social media to get real-time scores, news, and tournament updates as the Raptors compete for a National Championship.