Lions win on Martinez golden goal
Men's Soccer Lions edge USW in OT, 2-1
Southwestern plays Rams at home on Saturday
HOBBS, New Mexico -- Silence is golden. So are game-winning goals in overtime.
When Southwestern Assemblies of God University junior forward Danny Martinez (Houston, Tx / Cypress Creek HS) blasted a shot past the goalie five minutes into sudden-death overtime, there was nothing silent about the celebration. Martinez, who set a SAGU school-record with his 11th tally, was mobbed on the field as the Lions exulted in victory.
New head coach Gerald Nichols' team, seemingly on the cusp of their first-ever berth in the Red River Athletic Conference three weeks ago, skidded in with an 0-3-2 stretch drive that dashed their post-season hopes in the 12-team league.
The exuberant Lions appeared to let go of three weeks of frustration. They have competed very well against the top teams in the conference, though four disheartening matches served to remind the team how close they are to those clubs.
Saturday’s opposition, the University of the Southwest (2-12-1, 1-8-1 in RRAC), have dropped five one-goal decisions this year, including three in the Red River.
The Mustangs scored first off of a penalty kick. Freshman goalie Cesar Espana (Katy, Tx / Cinco Ranch HS) made a save on Gustavo Vega’s PK shot, though Vega managed to cash in on the rebound in the 21st minute.
SAGU tied the match four minutes later. Rolando Hernandez (Hidalgo, Michocan, Mex / Garringer HS, Charlotte, NC) stepped in front of an errant clearing pass and drilled a shot from 25-yards that the goalie, Harrison Hamorsky, had no chance of stopping. The game remained knotted until Martinez’ golden goal 4:09 into OT.
The conclusive play was pure execution.
SAGU’s Will Elliott (Mesquite, Tx / Cathedral of Life) took a throw-in near midfield and advanced to the box. There he hooked up with Martinez, who was angling in from his left. The former Cy-Creek Cougar controlled the entry with his left foot, and then discharged a laser with his right that ripped the net.
Southwestern had a 13-11 edge in shots, while USW owned a 5-3 margin in cornerkicks. The level of play was fast and clean, as SAGU was cited for nine of the game’s 15 fouls. There was only one card issued, a yellow against the Ponies.
Espana picked up the win while recording six saves, including several that drew the praise of Coach Nichols.
At 6-7-4 (won-lost-tied) overall, the Lions have clearly elevated their skills over last year’s 6-12 team. Against RRAC foes, SAGU is 4-4-2 after struggling through 1-8 dessert in 2010.
Upcoming Action: Final home game on Saturday
The Lions will close-out the regular season this Saturday, October 29, when they play host to Huston-Tillotson University (13-3, 9-1 in RRAC) at 3:00pm at Pride Park. Three SAGU seniors will be honored at the contest.
Southwestern will play host to the NCCAA* Central Regional Men’s Soccer Tournament during November 17-19. Anywhere from four to eight teams could play in the single-elimination field, with the winner advancing to nationals in Orlando the first weekend in December.
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