Northwood starts fast, thumps Lions
5-2 setback was a hard day's Knight
Lions must rebound Saturday vs LSUS
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- While one team appeared to be cattle stuck in the mud, trying to pull their hooves out of sludge, the other seemed to be on the fast track.
Northwood University started fast and rolled to a 5-2 triumph over Southwestern Assemblies of God University in men’s college soccer action on Thursday.
The game marked the start of the 11-game league season for the twelve teams in the Red River Athletic Conference. On a sunny, hot fall day, one team revved its engine, the other stalled.
The Lions possession game was out of sync and at times lethargic. The Knights, to the contrary, were content to dump the ball into SAGU territory and outrun them for scoring chances.
Northwood, 2-4 overall and 1-0 in the RRAC, vaulted to a 3-0 lead just twenty-five minutes into the contest.
They did so with little resistance as Carlos Villalpando turned a defender’s turnover into a 35-yard waltz and a 1-0 lead just 9:54 into the game. Leonardo Reyes then cashed in on two more SAGU errors for breakaway goals at 20:06 and 25:25, turning what was expected to be a close game into a one-sided contest.
Reyes was kryptonite to SAGU defenders in the first half, scoring twice and adding an assist.
“Northwood kept it simple,” said SAGU Assistant Coach Alex Vazquez. “They executed early and made us chase them. Our quickness usually has other teams chasing us. Not today.”
“We had some defensive breakdowns and it cost us the game,” he said. “The good thing is we kept the scoring down in the second half.” It coincided with Northwood resting Reyes.
The Knight won their sixth straight against Southwestern, outscoring Team Purp by a combined 21-6 in that span.
SAGU, 4-4 in all games and 0-1 in league play, was dominated from the outset by a Knights squad focused on getting out of the gate quickly. They finished with a huge 28-6 advantage in shots, and 11-3 in shots on goal.
While the Lions once had an 11-3 lead in fouls called against them, it nearly evened out at 13-11.
SAGU received spirited play by their second unit, particularly Jose Hernandez (Dallas, Tx / Skyline HS). Technically sound with his passes, he assisted on one of the Lions’ goals and labored long and hard as a farmhand at harvest.
Freshman Joel Ramirez (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) also came off the bench to earn an assist and fired a shot.
One of the best efforts came on a scoring bid by Carlos Gonzalez (Los Angeles, Cal / Delta HS, LABI). His kick missed the right upright, but it served notice that the deficit didn’t prevent good effort.
SAGU scored midway in the first half when Ramirez connected with freshman Lee Kounas (Dallas, Tx / Townview HS) with a through-ball. He charged in, deked, and then beat the keeper with a line-drive shot to the right at 26:27.
The scoring play was set-up by junior Ben Cole (Austin, Tx / McNeil HS). The defender spotted Ramirez at centerfield, who followed with his helper to Kounas (KOO-nahs). It was his fourth goal this season.
Gabriel Elizondo gave Northwood a 4-1 margin five minutes after intermission before the Lions emptied their bench.
Robert Ambrosie (Iasi, Romania / Richard Wurmbrand HS) cashed in on a centering pass off the right foot of Hernandez, belting it passed the goalie at 58:59.
The Lions still had thirty minutes, but would try only one more kick before the final horn.
Both Lions goalies, Cesar Galvan (Dallas, Tx / Lovejoy HS) and Cesar Espana (Katy, Tx (El Salvador) / Cinco Ranch HS), shared time on Thursday. Each was forced to make a handful of saves.
Galvan had a leaping, twisting swat of a shot before it glanced off the crossbar. Espana made one on a laser from close proximity and others by scrambling to cover for defenders.
Saturday Showdown: River Pilots vs. Jungle Kings
The Lions must regroup quickly to avoid an 0-2 start. LSU-Shreveport visits on Saturday at 1:00pm. The Pilots are 4-2-1 overall and 0-0-1 following Thursday’s 1-1 overtime tie at Huston-Tillotson University.
LSUS, 5-11 a year ago, are hungry this fall. The Lions defeated them on the Red River in 2011 by a 2-1 count.
It could be an early season gut-check test for the Lions, who are meshing-in a host of newcomers. It was at this time of season last fall that SAGU began to find their mojo and began clicking on all cylinders.
NOTE: The Lions’ game on Monday, September 24, against Southwestern Christian University (Okla) (6-2) was cancelled.
The Lady Lions will still play their match against the SCU Eagles.
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