Stunning finish ends well for Lions soccer
SAGU, Martinez, win thriller in OT, 2-1
Ball control, defense squeezes Warriors until closing minute
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- After nearly letting a hard-fought, well-deserved victory turn in a frightening tie in the game’s last minute, Southwestern Assemblies of God University turned to 'Old Reliable,' Danny Martinez (Houston, Tx / Cyrpess Creek HS) to pull off a 2-1 overtime thriller over Sterling College.
Played under a broiling sun and muggy conditions, the teams were given a mild reprieve with a light breeze. Limited shade was a commodity that only early birds and those with umbrellas could enjoy.
Following a strong start by Sterling that produced some early scoring chances, a steady-handed SAGU squad slowly took control of midfield. They tightened like a constrictor on the defensive end and took the air out of the Warriors attack.
Head Coach Clem Oancea (WAHN-cha) had his team vary their attacks from different locations.
When they struck for what appeared to be the only score of the late afternoon, the play was quick and silent. It was not a lethal blast that could be anticipated.
New signee Robert Ambrosie (Iasi, Romania / Richard Wurmbrand HS) maneuvered deftly on the right side of the box. He spun and, with an extra defender collapsing to cover him near the end line, wedged a chip pass softly to the goal mouth.
Freshman defender Nathan Dyke (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS), who battled ferociously all afternoon, needed a lift. From five yards out, he got it!
He knifed inside, positioning for an ambush header. Ambrosie’s pass from the edge of the box was skillfully deposited inside post after thirty-two minutes of scoreless play. The tally should've been enough.
Sterling’s ability to assemble an effective attack was seriously thwarted when one of their better players picked up a pair of yellow cards in a six-minute time span before intermission.
In soccer, two yellows (also called "cautionary Cards") mean a red (ejection), which is what color they usually see the rest of the day, as they are disqualified from further play. It also means their team plays one-man short the remainder of the game.
That effectively thwarted the red-cladded Warriors attack. Perhaps more importantly, they were short-handed against SAGU’s possession game. The ball seemed to always find the open Lion player the rest of the match. Sterling was forced to chase while the hosts artfully played keep-away.
They may have never had a chance hadn’t Southwestern fired some questionable shots instead of controlling the ball in the closing minutes. It opened the door for Sterling to revive their offense.
Jerome Joof split two defenders and was one-on-one with goalie Cesar Galvan (Dallas, Tx / Lovejoy HS). His right-footed shot was snuffed out like Smokey the Bear does a wayward match, preserving the shutout. Galvan dove to his left to spring the snare.
Joof had scored three goals in Sterling’s opener, a 5-0 blanking of Dallas Christian College. The improved Warriors were 3-14-1 last season.
Moments later, after another misplay, Joof made the Purple pay.
He zipped a perfect pass in the box to his left, where Francisco Hernandez buried it beyond a diving Galvan. The 90-minute game had only sixty-five seconds left at the time.
The shot stunned the crowd and led to overtime.
After a strategic talk from Oancea, the Lions found plenty of reserve in their tank. They grabbed possession from the outset and never relinquished it.
They made several runs at the net before Lee Kounas (Dallas, Tx / Townview HS), a talented and feisty freshman, tapped a pass to the senior striker, Martinez, the top scorer in the Red River Athletic Conference last fall.
He had angled in from the right, received the ball in front of the right post, and booted it home.
Sterling College had effectively denied him many touches all afternoon. He was due.
His best opportunity came in the 71st minute. Ambrosie connected with Martinez, right-to-left, but Nick Seeley, the SC keeper, gobbled it up.
The netminder made eight saves, including several spectacular saves, one robbing Jonathan “Colocho” Ramos (Tegus, Honduras / Garringer HS in Charlotte, NC).
SAGU (1-1) outshot the Warriors by an 18-11 count and owned a 3-1 edge in cornerkicks.
Southwestern drew nine of the game’s 17 fouls. Sterling had three of the five yellow card infractions, all of which were of a mild variety.
“We are proud of our boys,” said SAGU Assistant Coach Alex Vazquez. “They fought hard until the end and got a well-deserved win.”
“Even though we dominated the game,” he continued, “we let them fight back into the game. A few mistakes allowed them to tie us up. We clearly need to do a better job of finishing our chances and putting a game away. We’ve got some work to do.”
Home games on Monday and Saturday
The Lions return to action quickly. On Labor Day Monday, September 3, the Purple Pride will tangle Southwestern College at home at 1:00pm.
The Moundbuilders, 5-13 last year, are from Winfield, Kansas. They thumped Dallas Christian in their season opener on Saturday, 3-1.
SAGU also plays at home next Saturday, Sept. 8, when Louisiana College (NCAA Div. III) comes to town. The match will be the first-ever broadcast by SAGU Sports Live of SAGU soccer.
They will clash with the Wildcats at 5:00pm (CST). A pre-game show will begin, live, at approximately 5:00pm (CST). LC, currently 0-0, will play on Monday and will be at Dallas Christian on Friday.