While the mileage to and from Neosho was exactly the same, the trip home Saturday for the East Central College soccer Falcons seemed much longer following a 3-1 NJCAA Division I Region 16 defeat against Crowder College.

“The bus rides are much better after a victory,” East Central Head Coach Jay Mehrhoff said. “The game went well in the first half and then the officiating started to deteriorate and frustrate in the second half.”

East Central (4-5-2) fell behind in the first half, but got the equalizer from Blake Little (Belleville West, Belleville, Ill.) with an assist from Samuel Marchi (Deptford Green School, London, England).

“We were playing well and kept an edge in possession in the first half,” Mehrhoff said. “Crowder scored first as we had a breakdown defensively. Blake Little answered 10 minutes later in the 33rd minute with a great goal as he brought down a cross field pass from Samuel Marchi from his chest to his foot. Little hit a bomb low off the far post from the right side of the field, beating the Crowder defender and goalkeeper.”

Crowder scored the next two goals.

Mehrhoff was critical of the officiating, feeling Crowder committed a foul on one goal. He said there was another whistle for a head injury, which came just as Arman Kovac (Lindbergh) was preparing to shoot in the box.

“We had a hard time overcoming the poor officiating and it started to wear on us mentally,” Mehrhoff said. “This is where we started to unravel. We got a red card after a yellow card foul and we played the last 15 minutes down a player.”

Flavio Santi (Christiano Furtado, Aracruz, Brazil) made two saves in goal for East Central.

The Falcons host State Fair Community College Thursday at 3 p.m. before playing at home for the last time Saturday. Rockhurst University’s JV team will visit Union for a 1 p.m. game.