(TRINIDAD, Colo.) – Trinidad State headed into the playoffs as the top team in the south conference of Region IX. The top four teams from the south conference faced off with the top four from the north on Saturday in the region quarterfinals. This put the Trojans face-to-face with the 2016 Region IX Champions from Laramie County, the team that defeated the Trojans in the title game last fall. The Eagles had struggled early but returned to form late in the season to earn a playoff spot. This game was well played by both teams with the Trojans narrowly escaping to advance to the next round following a 1-0 win at Los Niños.
The game was fast paced from the opening whistle, with the Trojans getting the first real opportunity in the 60' minute when Hakim Williams drove the ball into the box and a handball was called on the Eagle defender as he slid in on a tackle. Ueslei Vicente Silva calmly stepped in and put the Trojans up on the ensuing penalty kick. Ronaldo Watson almost doubled the lead moments later when a free kick from long range rattled off the crossbar and bounced away. The pressure mounted and in the final moments the Eagles had their best chance of the game. A Trojan penalty led to an opportunity for LCCC to tie it up right at the end of regulation. The penalty kick would ricochet off the post however and the Trojans would hold on for the 1-0 win.
Overall, all four south teams would end up advancing to the next round, with Otero defeating Sheridan, Northeastern defeating top-seed Western Wyoming and Western Nebraska getting past Northwest College. The four teams will now head to Denver on Friday for the semifinals. NJC (12-7) will face Western Nebraska (12-5) at 1:30 p.m. and then the Trojans (14-4) will square off with the Rattlers (9-5-2) at 6:30 p.m. TSJC and Otero split their regular season games with the Rattlers winning 4-3 in La Junta and the Trojans winning 4-2 in Trinidad. The semifinal winners will head to the Championship game on Saturday night. All of the games will be played at Metro State University's Regency Athletic Complex in downtown Denver.