Men's Soccer tied by OLLU
Parker, Ballah, Vazquez score in overtime match
1st place Saints rally to salvage 3-3 deadlock
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Only a late, tying goal by Our Lady of the Lake University avoided a big upset by Southwestern Assemblies of God University on Thursday at Pride Park.
The Saints, who entered the game in a first place tie atop the Red River Athletic Conference, found the improved Lions a tough road to hoe. The 3-3 tie included a pair of 10-minute overtime sessions.
Southwestern’s fourth draw kept them in the hunt for their first-ever berth in the RRAC tournament. The Lions are in a four-way tie for fifth with only four games remaining in the regular season. (see schedule below)
The defensive match featured as many denials by goalies as there were quality scoring chances.
The game was tied at intermission at two goals apiece. SAGU went ahead in the 69th minute on a penalty kick. Joe Ballah (Monrovia, Liberia / Independence HS, Charlotte, NC) was knocked down on the right side of the box, resulting in a foul and the ensuing PK.
New Head Coach Gerald Nichols called on senior veteran Alex Vazquez (Mexico City, Mexico / Midwestern State Univ), who has excelled in the clutch for this young squad. He blasted a shot that the keeper, Nicholas Boyd, has no chance at stopping.
As they had done earlier after scoring to tie the game at 1-1, the Lions surrendered a quick reply by the Saints.
OLLU nearly answered on their next possession. A rush nearly finished with a goal, as a shot eluded a diving Lions’ netminder, Cesar Galvan (Allen, Tx / Lovejoy HS). Senior defender David A. Flores (San Miguel, El Salvador / RL Turner HS, Farmers Branch, Tx) came to the rescue. By darting behind Galvan and clearing the would-be equalizer, Flores could've appeared to be wearing a cape and mask as the heroic play foiled the opposition.
The Saints, with the pressure on, leveled the game in the 74th minute. A SAGU middle defender misplayed the ball and the breakdown yielded a third goal by Brandon Head. Ramiro Ramirez assisted on the shot from 15-yards out.
Head’s previous scores came at 12:49 into the game for a 1-0 lead, then at 36:32 for a 2-1 OLLU lead. Both tallies came courtesy of assists by Steven Salinas.
Our Lady almost regained the advantage when Gary Hamilton’s 28-yard mortar sailed beyond Galvan but missed the far right corner.
With five minutes left in the 3-3 deadlock, Galvan rose to the occasion. He saved a point-blank blast by Robert Alexe just eight yards out.
Donning the home gold threads, Southwestern missed on a short, indirect kick off the foot of Riffin Kajangu (D.R. Congo / UNC-Greensboro).
The stalemate reached overtime, with only one opportunity in the first 10 minutes. Sturgeon Parker’s (Bartlesville, Ok / Bartlesville HS) cross connected with Danny Martinez (Houston, Tx / Cy-Creek HS). Attracting like bees to honey through the whole match, Martinez, surrounded by a host of defenders, redirected the aerial with a snappy header. Boyd sprang to barely tip the shot over the far crossbar.
In the second OT, SAGU almost stunned the Saints in the 109th minute. Jonathan Ramos (Tegus, Honduras / Garringer HS, Charlotte, NC) sent a long throw-in to Ballah in the box. He controlled the pass while his back faced the goal. He maneuvered one way, then shuffled past a defender to the left and powered a rising drive that just missed the crossbar from 13-yards in the middle.
First half scoring gems
The Lions first half goals started with a crowd-pleaser by Sturgeon. His direct kick sailed past the keeper into the right corner in the 36th minute. Three minute later the Saints went ahead, 2-1, on Head’s second.
Leading the entire RRAC in assists, Parker added another. His cross to Ballah was controlled like a small dog on a leash. He fended off one defender, and then uncorked a laser that touched nothing but nylon for a 2-2 tie.
The effort by the Lions showed how capable this unit has become. They will need similar in their final games if they are earn post-season life.
At 5-5-4, Southwestern is contending with the best of the RRAC. Their 3-2-2 league mark also reveals they are just as close to 8th place as they are to 5th. The four matches left on their "to do list" will provide an excellent ladder to climb higher.
Game statistical summary
SAGU and the Saints battled with each club holding the edge during alternating surges. OLLU finished with a 17-12 edge in shots on goal and a 10-4 upper-hand in corner kicks. Up to the task, the Lions defense saw Galvan make 10 saves and SAGU commit 18 fouls. OLLU was whistled for 19 citations.
Lions’ Remaining Matches
Oct. 15 Home UT-Brownsville (5-1-1) 7-4-2
Oct. 20 Away Texas Wesleyan (4-1-1) 7-4-2
Oct. 22 Away Univ of the Southwest (0-6-1) 1-10-1
Oct. 29 Home Huston-Tillotson (7-0-0) 11-2-0
Note: Number in parenthesis is each team's conference record. The second figure is their won-lost-tied overall record.