Red Devils win Region VI title in waterlogged thriller

The Allen Red Devil men's soccer team battled some fierce rain, scoring twice late to fend off Pratt in a 2-0 thriller. The victory gives ACC the Region VI title, and puts the squad one game away from the NJCAA-Division II National Tournament

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Sports

May 20, 2021 - 10:01 AM

Allen Community College's Payge Sinclair, foreground, and Ajay Murray — shown at a game earlier this season — were key players in the Red Devils' 2-0 win over Pratt Wednesday to secure the Region VI-Division II championship. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

CHANUTE — Allen Community College’s soccer team would have made the U.S. Postal Service proud.

The Red Devils let neither the rain nor the dark of night prevent them from securing a Region VI championship, scoring twice in a five-minute span in a thrilling 2-0 win over Pratt Community College  Wednesday evening.

The game, moved to the Chanute HIgh School football field because of rainy weather, was held in a steady downpour from start to finish.

Allen’s Payge Sinclair broke the scoreless duel with a goal in the 75th minute. 

He broke free down the left side, and converted a give-and-go with teammate Jordan Mase, taking the ball in close, and smacking a low dribbler past the Pratt goalkeeper into the right side of the net.

The delirious Red Devil bench mobbed Sinclair as he greeted the hearty — and soggy — ACC contingent there to cheer on the team.

“It was an electric atmosphere,” ACC head coach Doug Desmarteau said. “It was fun for them.”

The roles were reversed less than four minutes later, when Sinclair was free down the left side, and ripped a shot in front of the goal to Mase, who poked in a header to make it 2-0 with 11 minutes left.

Red Devil goalkeeper Ajay Murray then rebuffed Pratt’s final scoring opportunity with a diving stop with 8½minutes remaining.

“We played really well,” Desmarteau said. “We stayed committed defensively. Our back line, with our two center backs, won most of the balls out of the air.”

Desmarteau noted Pratt handed Allen its only conference loss of the season less than two weeks ago by playing with an aggressive strategy with two forwards on offense.

“We worked on it this week in practice,” he noted. “It’s pretty rewarding as a coach to see them take what you’re using in practice into a game. The effort was amazing. They worked the whole 90 minutes, even though most of it was 0-0.”

Allen missed on a couple of prime scoring opportunities early on. “Payge missed a shot that was probably much easier than the one he scored with,” Desmarteau noted. “But he didn’t get frustrated.”

At the other end of the field, Murray preserved the scoreless tie with a key block late in the first half, then followed it up with his diving stop after the Red Devils jumped in front.

“I told the guys they put a lot of stress on an old man,” Desmarteau joked.

He lauded Allen’s defensive efforts on Pratt forward Mark McDaid, who likely will earn All-American honors this year with his 12 goals.

“We did a good job of containing him, keeping his back to the goal,” Desmarteau said.

Both teams coped well with the miserable conditions, with only momentary lapses in a driving rainstorm

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