“We’re 0-4 in playoff matches,” said fourth-year Blinn head coach Michael McBride. “It’s time to change that. The law of averages suggests we have to win one sooner or later, and we’d like it to be this season.”
The Buccaneers (12-6-2, 8-5-1 Region XIV) will get their chance this week when they host Jacksonville College in the opening round of the Gulf South District Tournament at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Hohlt Park’s Rankin Field in Brenham, Texas.
Blinn is making its fifth trip to the playoffs since the program launched in 2018.
The Bucs finished third in conference play and enter the postseason tournament seeded fourth. The Jaguars (8-8, 7-7) are seeded fifth.
This postseason marks the second time Blinn will host a playoff tilt but the first at Rankin Field. Blinn earned a home playoff game against Angelina College in 2019, but harsh weather conditions and an unplayable field at Rankin moved the game to Bellville, Texas.
The Bucs head into the postseason after posting the most wins in program history and setting a handful of team and personal bests along the way.
“It’s funny because you start to get nostalgic at times when you see some of your current players knock off someone you coached in the past for a new record,” McBride said. “The records are fun to see fall, though, and we’ve seen some very significant jumps this season. I think that’s a testament to the players we have and the improvements we’ve made as a program.”
(Pictured: Blinn College freshman forward David Garcia controls the ball during a match against Tyler Junior College on Oct. 15)
Freshman forward David Garcia holds Blinn’s single-game record for goals scored, which he tallied in a win over Northeast Texas on Sept. 7. Garcia also set the team record for points in a game in that match. Sophomore midfielder Felix Mesquita set the single-season mark for assists in a season with 14 and now owns the Buccaneers’ career assists mark with 20.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Pena is Blinn’s best career defender after bringing his career goals against average down to 1.44 this fall. He also is the new single-season saves leader with 89 and the career leader with 164, and holds program records for wins in a season (11) and career victories (20). Pena also is the program leader in shutouts with 10.
This season has also been a banner year for the Buccaneers in terms of team involvement. A total of 31 players have at least one point, 20 different Buccaneers have scored one goal or more, and 26 Bucs have at least one assist. As a team, Blinn has set records this fall with 12 assists in a match, twice, and total assists with 89.
Blinn’s achievements this year are many, but the Buccaneers believe bigger accolades are still on the to-do list.
“The records are important but winning each game and getting as far as we can is what comes first,” Mesquita said. “These records are something to push for and it boosts our confidence but winning our first playoff game would be massive. That’s the mark we want to break because it would be great for this program and for our future.”
Mesquita’s teammates echoed his sentiments, citing a desire to push one step further in the postseason this time around and perhaps a few steps further.
“We’ve had a strong season and what we’ve accomplished as a team and as individual players is fun, but the season isn’t finished,” Pena said. “It’s nice to accomplish these little things throughout the course of the season, but the big goal is always going to be to win the national championship.”
(Pictured: Blinn College sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Pena returns the ball to play during a match against Tyler Junior College on Oct. 15)
Blinn’s journey starts with a Jacksonville team that it has played well against. The Bucs own a 7-3 all-time record against the Jaguars. In two regular-season meetings this season, Blinn and Jacksonville split, with the Jaguars earning a 2-0 home win on Sept. 14, and the Bucs returning the favor with a 3-1 home triumph Oct. 12.
“They’re a tough adversary who just knocked off fourth-ranked Angelina College on the road – one of the very best teams in the country, let alone the region,” McBride said. “They are tough on the road, we are very evenly matched, but we owe them one. We bowed out to them in the first round in 2021 (spring), and it would be nice to redress the balance.”
Elsewhere in the tournament, top-seeded Tyler Junior College (ranked sixth nationally) will have a first-round bye. Other matchups in the opening round include No. 2-seed Angelina (No. 7 nationally) vs. Northeast Texas Community College and No. 3 Louisiana State University-Eunice (No. 11 nationally) vs. Coastal Bend College. Tyler will battle the lowest remaining seed after the first round, while the remaining two seeds will face off.