Sudden Death: Soccer Lions Caught Off-Guard
SAGU Stunned in Double OT, 2-1
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- After dominating the possession game throughout, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University men's soccer team yielded two late goals, the last with two minutes left in overtime, falling to Southwestern College, 2-1, on Labor Day Monday.
The Lions, now 2-2, have enjoyed a promising start this fall. A very talented incoming class of players have joined the returning core of experienced lettermen, giving SAGU a full arsenal of potential scorers. They held a clear advantage over the Moundbuilders, yet struggled to put away a rebuilding team from Kansas who won only once in 17 games in 2009.
Deadlocked at 1-1 after ninety minutes of regulation, the Lions began to play with a renewed sense of urgency in the two, 10-minute OT periods. They had six opportunities to come away with a win, but failed to finish with the golden goal.
The Builders, on their heels, rose up with a stunning counter attack. Jonathan Torres, a 5-foot-10 midfielder, separated SAGU's Jonathan Segundo (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) from the ball near midfield. He spun, and located senior forward Andrew Bonvehi wide open, having split two Lions defenders, Brenden Kowalski (Tomball, Tx / Tomball HS) and David Flores (El Salvador / R.L. Turner HS).
Bonvehi (Bon-VAY-hee) took the through-pass and beat SAGU goalie Cesar Galvan (Dallas, Tx / Lovejoy HS) with a shot to the corner with 2:56 remaining in the game. Galvan had little chance to stop Bonvehi, who also scored SC's first goal, at the sixty-minute mark. That goal came on a cornerkick from Jordan Rivas that he headed past Galvan. Bonvehi was left unmarked on the play.
Kowalski Gives Cats 1-0 Lead
SAGU took an early 1-0 advantage. Joe Ballah (Charlotte, NC / Independence HS), a 5'11 freshman forward, had beaten his man in the box and was about to score when he was brought down by a desperate defender. A penalty was called, and the Lions' Kowalski took the penalty kick just 9:50 into the match. He crushed it high, into the webbing. SAGU was in charge.
Throughout the contest the Lions appeared the aggressor, controlling the ball, getting a number of good shots, but were also called for offsides five times as they continued to threaten to score. They were whistled for 12 of the game's 20 fouls. But SAGU also appeared to settle for what seemed to be a likely 1-0 victory.
"Both teams played very well," said Builders' assistant coach Joey Yeisley afterwards. "SAGU has tremendous speed everywhere. We were trying to counter by holding our positions, aiming to control the pace and not get into a scoring contest. Our guys battled hard to keep the ball away from them and set up our chances when they came."
As for that surprise chance in the game's closing moment, he described: "It was a quick ball from on top (center of the field) and he (Bonvehi) found the corner." He made it sound almost routine. "But this was a big step for our program," he added. "We went 1-15-1 last year (including a 3-1 loss to SAGU). We've gotten off to a 2-0 start, and this win will really boost our confidence."
Lions Coaches View
SAGU's new Head Coach Aaron DeLoach praised the Builders effort and said Bonvehi's goal was a great kick. "There was nothing Galvan could do to stop that one."
He also felt the collision at midfield in which Segundo was "...knocked off the ball," should have drawn a foul call. "I think the official missed that one." Assistant Coach Corbin Waller described what happened next as a "great through ball and a great finish. He was wide open in the seam. You knew it was over."
There was only one quality shot in the first OT. Four minutes in, Segundo drilled a shot from just right of center. But the blast from 12-yards sailed two feet over the crossbar.
In the second overtime, it was all-SAGU. Until the Builders stole the finish by adding the exclamation point.
Only 1:11 in, Ballah took a pass and was open from inside 10-yards, but his boot slid to the left of the post by less than a foot. Less than two minutes later, Bryan King (Springfield, Mo / Kickapoo HS) sent a left cross to Segundo. His kick from point blank range was saved by goalie Daniel Forsythe. Segundo got the rebound and tried to muscle it by the keeper, who wrestled it away. Both were on the ground, near the right post.
King chased down a long ball in the right corner before being fouled. The following indirect kick by Flores was defensed. Another bullet dodged by a scrambling Builders team.
Then, Segundo was in position from 20-yards out. He sidestepped a defender and unloaded a frozen rope with 3:57 to play, missing the side post.
That set the stage for the counter play that caught the Lions off the ball and off guard.
Lion First Half Highlights
Galvan made a great save on a Julio Calderon shot from 15 yards. A Segundo kick from 8-yards was caught by Forsythe. Sam Cabrera (Tampa, Fla / Hillsborough Community College) deflected a centering pass to Rivas, who was open in front of the goal mouth at the 14 minute mark.
Second Half Moments
King pulled the trigger from 36 feet away, but Forsythe made a splendid save. James Wright (Dallas, Tx / Evangel University) assisted to Ballah. His strong legged attempt was snared by Forsythe, who was well-positioned. Ballah booted a centering pass to Glorie Ndongala (Kinsasha, Congo / Northglenn HS, Colo), but the near-goal was well defended with 21 minutes to play.
Danger: High Voltage
Ndongala's presence off the bench brought a zealous energy. Throughout the game DeLoach implored him to up the tempo, to go all-out, to save nothing. "I'll give you a break," the coach yelled out, promising a breather. "Keep it up! Go! Go! Go! Up the amps!" The speed game has added an exciting element this season.
With 14:25 remaining in regulation, Ndongala sent a rebound shot, hooking it toward the corner. But Forsythe was up to the task again.
Ballah, who has a power-laden leg and great command of the ball, lifted a pass to the right side to forward James Swearingen (Arlington, Tx / Home School). His header went high as 2:09 was showing on the clock.
Home Game Friday: Only Game in Town
Southwestern will host the Tigers of Central Christian College this Friday, September 10. The game starts at 5:00pm at Southwestern Field. Central is 2-0 so far this young season, with both wins coming on the road. They play host to Sterling College (1-1) on Tuesday night at 8pm. SAGU edged the Tigers last year in McPherson, Kansas, 2-0.
With the Volleyball Lady Lions in Sherman for a tournament this weekend, and the football Lions in Brownwood for a 6pm game on Saturday night, only the SAGU soccer teams will be at home - both on Friday.
The Lions will be in Austin to play Concordia University on Saturday night. The Tornados are a talented squad. They are 1-1, losing in overtime to Our Lady of the Lake University on Saturday. The NCAA Division III team topped SAGU in 2009 by a 4-0 count.