COLUMBIA — Sophomore forward Marko Paunovic doesn't care who scores, as long as the Columbia College men's soccer team gets a victory. However, it certainly helps the Cougars' cause when he does.
Paunovic did all the scoring for Columbia College in its 2-0 victory over Lyon College on Tuesday night at R. Marvin Owens Soccer Stadium in the semifinals of the American Midwest Conference Tournament. Paunovic now has six goals in the team's past four games, but he still credits his team's balance for their success.
"Scoring gives me some extra motivation, but it's not about me, it's about the team," he said. "Our team's best characteristic is that everyone can score."
Paunovic found the back of the net first in the 18th minute when a cross from the left corner trickled through the defense and found the foot of Paunovic who put it in the top part of the goal. He held his hand high in celebration, sprinted to midfield in front of the spectators and took a bow for his efforts.
His second goal came in the 59th minute off a free kick following a Lyon penalty. Paunovic, who is from Serbia, told his teammate and countryman senior defender Nikola Velickovic in Serbian to give him a quick pass on the next free kick. Velickovic delivered a perfect ball to Paunovic streaking into the box who chipped it past the goalkeeper.
He ran toward the sideline again, perhaps to take another bow for the fans, but was tackled by a mob of his teammates before he had a chance. Paunovic said it wasn't the strongest shot, but it got the job done.
"I got lucky on the shot when it skipped past the goalie, but I scored, and that's most important," he said.
The Cougars, now 14-0-5 and ranked sixth in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national polls, move onto the AMC tournament championship against Hannibal-LaGrange.
The Cougars defeated the Trojans 1-0 on Oct. 3 in Columbia but will play in Hannibal this time around. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Nov. 9. The winner will receive an automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament, as well as the conference title.