Photo by: Henoc Kivuye
Following a season opener loss, the Lady Eagles soccer squad surged back to dismantle Bethel College 4-0.
Thursday Sept. 5 the Oklahoma Christian University Lady Eagles traveled to the University of Central Oklahoma for their season opener, falling 6-0. Senior Chelsie Flagg saw the loss as an eye opener for the Lady Eagles as they begin to play more nationally ranked teams.
“The UCO loss was good for us,” Flagg said. “We saw what we needed to work on and saw what level we need to play at in order to compete this season.”
Oklahoma Christian contained UCO in the first half, holding them to only one goal. In the second half the Bronchos went on the offensive to score five more in just over 13 minutes of game time, posting the game’s final 6-0 score. Oklahoma Christian only logged seven shots on goal, while the Bronchos fired off 27.
The Bronchos are ranked No. 23 in the nation, and in the seven times the two teams have met, the Eagles have never claimed a victory.
Facing Bethel just two days later, Oklahoma Christian posted a record-breaking number of shots on goal, gunning for the net 42 times. They held Bethel to just three shots for the game. Women’s assistant coach Neil Hilton noted the biggest change between the two games came down to control.
“Just the calmness to play the game the way we would like to – we matched Bethel’s effort and then controlled the game,” Hilton said. “Versus UCO we never matched their intensity and never got control of the game.”
Junior Rachel Bates, who went scoreless last season, netted two goals for the Eagles. Junior Estefania Delgado and senior Somer Helms also tallied goals for Oklahoma Christian.
Helms scored first for the Eagles, punching one to the back of the net in the 12th minute. Like Bates, Helms did not score a goal last season. Sophomore Bermudez Delgado gave Helms a pass, and Helms beat the goalkeeper from 15 yards away.
Delgado scored the second goal of the game in the 35th minute off of a corner kick, making the score 2-0.
Bates scored both of her goals in the second half, chalking one up in the 56th minute and again in the 68th minute. Her first goal gave Delgado her second assist of the game, and Bates scored her second goal off a rebound from Bethel’s keeper.
The Oklahoma Christian men’s team took to the pitch Sept. 5 as well, taking on Southern Nazarene University on the road.
The Eagles had not beaten the Southern Nazarene Crimson Storm in their last 10 matchups. The two teams have met every season – with the exception of last year – since Oklahoma Christian began playing soccer in 1986.
The Eagles’ key to victory came in threes, as junior Domenico DeGrazia hammered home a hat trick across both halves – the first hat trick since Trey Payne scored three goals in the season opener two years ago.
DeGrazia got the Eagles off to a quick start, scoring in the sixth minute of the game off an assist from freshman Troy Tippeconnic. Degrazia’s goals were just getting started for the night though, with two more to come.
The Crimson Storm answered to tie the score at 1-1, but the Eagles would score again only 27 seconds later. DeGrazia scored his second goal of the night off an assist from sophomore Ricardo Chinchilla. Senior Rigel Mathis attributed the team’s success to their cohesion and athleticism.
“We played well as a team,” Mathis said. “You could see how much we have improved; we were more fit than they were, which was a key to our success.”
The Eagles held a slim 2-1 lead over the Crimson Storm at the half. Southern Nazarene tied the game up in the 58th minute.
Troy Tippeconnic scored the first goal of his college career from 45 yards out, finding the back of the net. Tippeconnic’s goal seemed to revitalize the Eagles, and two minutes later Chinchilla scored off his own rebound to make the game 4-2. DeGrazia put the finishing touches to the game, completing his hat trick in the 76th minute from 15 yards out.
The Oklahoma Christian women’s soccer team will be in action twice this week, taking on Newman University in Wichita, Kan. on Thursday, Sept. 12. Although Newman and Oklahoma Christian are both in the Heartland Conference, this meeting will count as a non-conference game. The Lady Eagles return home Sept. 14 to take on Midwestern State University.
The men’s team only has one game this week, as they travel to McPherson, Kan. to take on Central Christian College on Saturday Sept. 14.