COLUMBIA — With five minutes left in Saturday's soccer game between Columbia College and Davenport University, Cougars defender Dan Rapp had to make a tough decision.
After a Panthers corner kick, the ball was deflected from the goal mouth 20 yards out in front the Cougars' goal. Davenport midfielder Chase Burgess stepped up and drilled the ball back in the direction it came in an attempt to tie the game.
Rapp jumped in front of the ball, and it hit him on the back of his thigh. The ball made a loud thud, and Rapp fell to the ground grimacing.
"That hurt pretty bad," Rapp said. "But I mean with five minutes left, you got to stop that shot."
The Cougars have not made the most of scoring opportunities this season, and their struggles continued Saturday night at R. Marvin Owens Soccer Stadium. After Columbia College took a 2-0 lead in the first half, the Panthers scored in the 52nd minute. The blocked shot by Rapp helped the Cougars hold their lead and win 2-1.
Parker Rawdon, who scored for the Cougars in the first half, was grateful for his teammate's sacrifice.
"That was pretty awesome of him," Rawdon said. "That probably saved us a goal right there."
Fellow defender Tom Vincenc said he knows the feeling of blocking a hard shot in chilly weather. He also said they are "always a huge key" for defense.
"The worst are in the face or like the back of your legs, and that's right where Rapp took his," Vincenc said.
Rapp said the play gave him "a horrible deadleg," and left his leg stinging. But the defensive stand allowed the Cougars to hold off Davenport and improve to 13-2-1 overall this season.
"Whenever it's a one-goal game, a lot of times it takes second-chance defending," Rapp said. "It's all about heart at that point."