Men’s soccer: a step in the right direction

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Derek Yoder
Contributing Writer

Senior Derek Yoder shields the ball from a defender in Saturday’s hard fought 4-3 loss to Howard Payne.

This past Saturday (9/10) the Crusaders faced off against Howard Payne University, a familiar opponent that they have played both in and out of conference. The match was action packed as fans from both the home team and the away team cheered from the edges of their seats until the final whistle blew.

Statistically, both teams were fairly evenly matched. The Crusaders took 22 shots to the Yellow Jackets’ 14 shots; however, both teams managed six shots on goal. At the beginning of the first half, the Dallas boys had Howard Payne pressed to their own defensive third. A few shots and crosses were taken with opportunity to put the ball in the back of the net. However, the offensive pushes towards Howard Payne were either deflected by the defense or shot over the goal. Shane Cazad, Howard Payne’s star player, fired back with a long ball from the midfield, slotting it into the corner of the net and placing Dallas under pressure after the 10-minute mark. Thereafter, an all-out battle erupted on the pitch as the Crusaders’ pushed for an equalizer.

The equalizer came when the ball was slotted to the top of the field, played back to freshman midfielder William Sanchez, and then played across the top of the box to the right offensive wing, sophomore Garrett Johnson. The shot arced up to the post and then bent downwards directly behind the opposing goalkeeper and into the back of the net. After the equalizer, both teams returned to their previous struggles and clashed alongside each other until the end of the first half.

Minutes into the second half, Cazad beat the Crusader defense for his second goal of the match. Dallas received a second blow in the second half when Cazad met a through ball on the top of the goalkeeping box and netted his third goal just five minutes after his second. Dallas, however, did not stand idle as a fresh combination between Sanchez and freshman winger Nathan Nwaeze again ignited the bruised hearts of the Crusaders with a Dallas goal just minutes after Howard Payne’s third goal. This chaos theory continued to develop with yet another goal from HPU’s Cazad, and then a follow up goal from freshmen Kenny Waterbury, who received a slotted through ball from senior forward Derek Yoder that split HPU’s defensive backs.

Nimbly dodging around a Howard Payne player, sophomore midfielder Nathan Nwaeze charges down the field.

Trailing HPU 4-3 with 17 minutes left, the Dallas boys continued to crash the opponent’s goal minute by minute. Sanchez flicked a shot that landed on the crossbar, Yoder had a volley that went wide, and junior Alex Lebl and senior co-captain Preston Waltrip fired at will as the Howard Payne goal began to resemble a shooting range rather than a soccer field. With 30 seconds left, Dallas remained at a goal deficit. With one last play, the Crusaders crossed the ball wide to freshmen winger Aaron Hegemann, who agilely rounded HPU’s outside back and crossed the ball towards the goal. The ball reached Yoder who flicked it backwards into the six-yard box. Players from both teams soared into the air as time ticked down second by second. Senior defender Blaise DuFrain made contact with the ball, but it landed just wide of the goal. The final whistle blew, and the scoreboard read 4-3 in favor of Howard Payne.

It was a tough loss as UD left everything on the field and missed multiple chances to score additional goals. However, both the coaching staff and the team concluded that their progress in relation to their last match was an immense improvement, and that if they continue to improve at this rate, victory is just around the corner. The Dallas boys walked off the field proudly with heads held high and mouths filled with cookies from team chef/refreshment specialist Trinity Hoffmann. Their next match will be at home on Tuesday, Sept 13 at 5 p.m. against Southwestern Assemblies of God.

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