Lions soccer team in today's final
SAGU tops MACU, 2-0
Martinez scores twice on Ramos, Elliott assists
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s men’s soccer team and top-seeded Central Baptist College will meet today in the NCCAA Central Regional finals with a Nationals berth at stake. The 2:30pm match is slated for the Lions’ Pride Park.
Sixth-seeded SAGU (9-7-4) has been the story of the regional with a pair of thrilling upset wins. Central Baptist College (Ark) needed a pair of overtimes and penalty kicks to get past a determined Central Christian College (Mo) team on Friday.
Southwestern opened the tourney with a highly spirited game against Southwestern Christian University (Ok), whose aggressive Eagles were best described as Firebirds. SAGU took a 1-0 lead by virtue of a Parker Sturgeon (Bartlesville, Ok / Bartlesville HS) goal, into the final 10 minutes. SCU stunned SAGU when Ally Sandercock’s cornerkick into a crowd knotted the score when Adam Kay’s shot from 10 yards beat the keeper.
The Lions won the game ninety-seconds later with a counter attack. Danny Martinez (Houston, Tx / Cypress Creek HS) was taken down in the box after receiving a cross. The resulting foul sent Alex Vazquez (Mexico City, Mex / Midwestern State Univ) to the mark for a penalty kick at 82:53. The 32-year old veteran booted it inside the left post for the game winner. “Pops” has now converted five straight PK’s this season.
On Friday the Lions faced #2 seed Mid-America Christian University, a team who whipped them in Waxahachie in August, 3-1, and who had eliminated them in the 2010 regional, 6-0.
Coach Gerald Nichols’ team wasted little time in the rematch. Just 2:38 into the semi-final they struck paydirt.
Jonathan Ramos (Tegucilgapas, Honduras / Garringer HS, Charlotte, NC) sent a pinpoint cross from the left flank to Martinez in the goal mouth. The junior forward snapped a sharp header that beat keeper Cody English for a 1-0 lead they would not relinquish.
If possession is "nine-tenths of the law," then the Lions passing game controlled the midfield and limited scoring opportunities of the Evangels. The contest became a fast-paced, defensive stalemate, with only 13 shots on goal between the teams, seven by SAGU.
In the 70th minute the Jungle Kings struck again. Will Elliott (Mesquite, TX / Cathedral of Life Christian School), a freshman midfielder, came off the bench and zipped a throughball to Martinez. He broke through the back line and, one-on-one with the keeper, blasted a shot into the netting for a 2-0 lead.
The play of Sam Cabrera (Tampa, Fla / Tampa Baptist), David A. Flores (Farmers Branch, Tx / R.L. Turner HS), Robbie DeLeon (Dallas, TX / First Baptist Academy) and Edward Perez (Dallas, TX / Thomas Jefferson HS) keyed the defensive charge, teaming with goalie Cesar Galvan (Allen, Tx / Lovejoy HS) to pitch a shutout.
The defense had to play without the services of Riffin Kajangu (D.R. of Congo / UNC-Greensboro), who was injured on Thursday.)) ),)
While the cornerkicks were evenly split at four apiece, SAGU was cited for 16 fouls, compared to just six on the Evangels.
The Lions will benefit from having Joe Ballah (Monrovia, Liberia / Independence HS, Charlotte, NC) back in the line-up on Saturday. He wasn’t able to play the past two games after getting carded in the regular season finale. They will need his play against the Mustangs, who rode past SAGU in August, 4-2.
Even with a loss today, Southwestern will finish the season with the first winning record in school history.
Central Baptist defeats Central Christian after 2-2 tie
CBC had a 2-1 lead against the CCC Tigers on Friday, thanks to goals by Greg West and Matt Cole. West may have the tourney’s most spectacular goal. After the Tigers’ keeper cleared the ball to his left, directly West, he crushed a shot from nearly 35-yards out. The arching-laser sailed over Alex Akrawi’s head into the far corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead.
Ronnie Rocha tied it after a Martin Marfo assist. Cole’s header off a free kick by Ryan Pelser gave the Ponies a 2-1 lead in the 70th. That seemed to be enough until the Tigers struck late.
A CBC defender was called for a defensive foul in the box, awarding a penalty kick to the Blue Cats. Grant Rardon scored the equalizer at 87:06. Two overtime sessions couldn’t break the deadlock, bringing about PK shootout.
The Mustangs made five consecutive from 11 meters; Pelser, T.J. Rodriguez, Christian Saavedra , Cole and finally, Luis Beltran, whose shot gave them a 5-3 lead, clinching the game.
Rardon, Rex Price and Gunnar Kelly drained shots, with the only miss by C-cubed being a shot that hit the crossbar. That was the margin of victory or defeat in a hard-fought semi-final.
CCC finished with an 11-9 edge in shots on goal, as well as a 7-5 upper-hand in cornerkicks. Fouls were close as well, with CCC being called for 13 of the game’s 23 whistles. Five yellow cards were given, three to the Tigers.