SAGU soccer blanked by top seed
Fluke goal swings qtr-final to Cal-Baptist
Lions to play Oakland City on Thursday at 1:30pm
KISSIMMEE, Florida -- Their momentum and emotion from last week’s three-game sweep through the regional tournament met its match on Wednesday evening. Seeded eighth at the NCCAA Soccer Championships, Southwestern Assemblies of God University men’s soccer team were courageous but outmanned in a 3-0 setback against the #1 seed, California Baptist University.
The Lancers won a school-record 16th time when they scored a pair of goals seven minutes apart to extend a 1-0 halftime lead at the Austin-Tindall Regional Park on a cool, twi-night evening.
After yielding a fluke goal at 22:35 of the field half, the Lions battled Cal Baptist to what should have been a scoreless tie at the break. Still, the Lancers controlled the game with a superior midfield. They had a 10-2 advantage in shots and kept SAGU, now 10-8-4, without a serious scoring opportunity in the first 45 minutes.
Minutes into the second stanza the Lancers (16-5-0) broke the game open. Marc Hope was pulled down inside the 18-yard box by a SAGU defender to prevent a likely goal. A foul was called, resulting in a penalty kick, which was taken by Willie Rupert. He nailed his fifth goal of the year, all coming from the penalty mark at 51:41.
The Lancers have allowed only 16 goals all season. On four occasions they surrendered two, all resulting in a loss. On Wednesday they showed just how tough they are to score against. They permitted only eight shots by the Lions; three of them on-goal.
It was their ninth shutout this fall, one short of their record of 10, which was set in 2010 when they went 15-5.
Jonathan Fausto booted in an easy kick from six yards out following a cornerkick and a short pass by Michael Salazar. SAGU failed to clear the ball and a moment later it was deposited into the back of the net at 58:26.
Cal-Baptist was both lucky and good
The Lancers first tally was an accident, though it was also a beautiful stroke of luck.
Carlos Figueroa, a junior defender, lifted a cross from 25-yards out, near the right sideline. With several attackers charging the goal-mouth for the would-be assist, the ball sailed over the head of SAGU keeper, Cesar Galvan (Allen, Tx / Lovejoy HS).
Figueroa’s cross glanced off the far post and went into the netting for a stunning 1-0 lead that was all the Lancers needed. It was his first career goal.
The Lions, led by Sam Cabrera (Tampa, Fla / Tampa Baptist) and David Flores (San Miguel, El Salvador / Farmers Branch, Tx, R.L. Turner HS) had played solid defense until then.
The experienced CBU squad, who were in the NAIA playoffs in 2010 (15-5 record), kept the ball and the pressure on the upstart Lions.
SAGU has never been on the big stage before and are enjoying their first winning record in school history. Should this cast return next season, the difference gained this season could lead to similar heights for the Lions.
Southwestern took the game’s first shot, a left-footed try from Danny Martinez (Houston, Tx / Cypress Creek HS). He was cited by the broadcast announcers as a "bonafied striker." SAGU found it increasingly difficult to get the ball to the silver-shoed feet of their #1 scorer.
One opportunity came in the first half during a counter-attack led by Jonathan Ramos (Tegus, Honduras / Charlotte, NC, Garringer HS). His pass to Martinez during a 5-on-4 rush was broken up inside.
Adding spark to the offense
Perhaps the best chance came following the entry of Joe Ballah (Monrovia, Liberia / Independence HS, Charlotte, NC). The gifted player who is a catalyst to the offense, had a few moments on the edge of the box where his footwork, strength and skills were on display. But he could not get past several defenders.
With Ballah in the game, the Lions had two forwards at the top. Parker Sturgeon (Bartlesville, Ok / Bartlesville HS) drew a crowd at the 18-yard mark, and tried to send a heel pass behind his back to Ballah. Left alone on the left, he never got the ball as it was deflected away.
Coach Gerald Nichols added James Swearingin (Arlington, Tx / Home School), another offensive playmaker, into the mix. But the Lancers always seemed to have the answer.
The contest was physical at times, and chippy in the minutes after CBU took a 3-0 lead. In all, SAGU picked up 20 fouls to a dozen called on the Lancers. There were seven yellow cards issued, with both teams getting three apiece in the second half. SAGU had one prior to recess.
The Lions never ceased battling, a testament to their resolve. Predicted to fold by the GPSN announcers, they never did. SAGU held their own, but were contained by the veteran Lancers. CBU took 22 shots, thought only nine were on goal. Galvan registered six saves.
A symbol of Cal Baptist’s defensive prowess came in the 88th minute. Martinez broke free deep inside the box and was tackled from behind to keep the junior from scoring. Awarded a penalty kick, he banged a shot just inside the left post and into the mitts of a diving Joey Pacheco, their sophomore goalie.
The CBU netminder also snuffed out a Sturgeon to Ballah cross with nine minutes to play. A cornerkick from Sturgeon to Cabrera looked like a goal was developing until the latter’s blast went over the crossbar.
Thursday's match: SAGU vs Oakland City, 1:30pm
Next up for the Purple Pride will be the #5 seeded Mighty Oaks (11-6-1) of Oakland City University. They also lost on Wednesday, 2-0, against #4 Cedarville University. They have outscored their opponents this season 42-24.
The match will begin at 1:30pm (CST) and will be livestreamed on GPSN at: http://www.gpsnonline.com/2011/11/27/mens-soccer-national-tournament-begins-november-30th-live-video/
RESULTS FROM NCCAA NATIONALS:
Day One – November 30
#7 Geneva College 1-0 over #2 Palm Beach Atlantic University
#3 Judson University 3-2 over #6 Grace College in 2 OT’s
#1 California Baptist University 3-0 over #8 Southwestern Assemblies of God University
#4 Cedarville University 2-0 over #5 Oakland City University
Day Two Schedule – December 1
11:00am #2 Palm Beach Atlantic vs. #6 Grace College
1:30pm #5 Oakland City vs. #8 SAGU
4:00pm #3 Judson vs. #7 Geneva
6:30pm #1 Cal-Baptist vs. #4 Cedarville