Photo by: Henoc Kivuye
Men’s soccer fell just short against St. Gregory’s University while the Lady Eagles recorded their first tie game in two years on Monday, followed Wednesday by a late-game surge to defeat Southwestern Christian University 2-1.
The men have a portion of their starting lineup out due to injury, and Head Men’s Soccer Coach David Scott is having to push newer players into their positions.
“A lot of it is bringing those new players up to speed because they may not have faced that kind of adversity on their club teams,” Scott said. “That kind of competition just wasn’t there.”
The Lady Eagles kicked off Monday’s doubleheader against St. Gregory’s with a few early shots on goal, but a fairly uneventful first half. The 52nd minute, however, found Oklahoma Christian University with a penalty kick after the Cavaliers drew a handball in the box.
Junior Estefania Bermudez Delgado lined up the kick and drilled one into the net, putting Oklahoma Christian ahead and gaining some needed momentum. Just a few minutes later St. Gregory’s responded, putting one past sophomore goalkeeper Lindsey Williams. The second goal turned out to be the last of the game, with both teams unable to pull ahead after double overtime.
Though the Lady Eagles didn’t lose, Head Women’s Soccer Coach Randall Robison saw the game’s indicators for areas of improvement.
“We’ve just got to get that hunger, get that fight,” Robison said. “We just have to find just a little bit more intensity and a little bit more passion to win those individual match-ups, to get that result.”
Wednesday the Lady Eagles hosted Southwestern Christian, with clear skies and a fair wind mirroring sophomore Mackenzii Bieke’s hopes for a better rebound match following their performance against St. Gregory’s.
“These last couple of games we just have not been stepping up to how we can play, and how we should be playing,” Bieke said. “We could have played better, and we should have played better, so everyone’s getting prepared. Hopefully tonight we’ll kick some butt.”
Midway through the first half Southwestern Christian pulled ahead, despite the Lady Eagles’ steady increase of shots on goal. After the half, Oklahoma Christian’s persistence paid off.
Sophomore Areli Bermudez Delgado, with an assist from her sister Estefania, put the Lady Eagles on the board in the 64th minute. Senior Somer Helms followed soon after, sealing the game near the end of the 75th minute. According to Robison, the Delgado sisters will play key roles for the upcoming season.
“We’ve said for a long time if we get the ball to Stef’s feet that we should be able to get it in,” Robison said. “Areli’s tremendous in the back. She battles all game long, and she tries to get in the attack from a defensive position, which you don’t see much in women’s soccer. When you do, it’s special.”
The talent of the Delgado sisters is not the only contribution to this season’s team, Robison quickly noted. He had nothing but praise for the Lady Eagles upperclassmen.
“Addie Ryan is great on and off the field,” Robison said. “Chelsie Flagg’s been a joy to have the last four years . . . it’s like her work ethic just gets even better and she tries even harder. Somer Helms, we’ve changed her position this year too. She’s handled it well . . . and all three of them will have to be a part of us taking this next step.”
The men fell in regulation time to the Cavaliers 3-2 in the season’s home opener, after a furious first half and a concerted struggle in the second — a disappointing result according to junior Domenico DeGrazia.
“It was a shame that we lost against St. Gregory’s, because we had a lot of fans,” DeGrazia said. “You always want to win at home, but especially when you have that many fans looking at you, coming out to support, you want to perform for them.”
St. Gregory’s came out swinging, pushing hard and finding the net just over a minute in. Oklahoma Christian’s retort came nearly 12 minutes later. Sophomore Ricardo Chinchilla danced around the Cavalier defense and crossed to freshman Cody Cook, who touched it in to tie the game.
Chinchilla proved vital again just a few minutes later, feeding the ball to DeGrazia. He pushed past St. Gregory’s scrambled defense and blazed one in from 12 yards out.
Oklahoma Christian held the lead for almost 10 more minutes before giving way to St. Gregory’s Marcus Miranda. The Cavaliers closed out the first half, and the rest of the game, with another goal 10 minutes later.
Oklahoma Christian, due to a host of injuries keeping veterans such as junior Angel Nisi and senior Rigel Mathis out of play, found their freshmen getting unexpected starting experience at the Division II level.
“I think we have a good team, it’s just a matter of letting the new guys adjust to this level,” DeGrazia said. “The games were definitely a wake-up call for everyone on the team.”
Despite the loss, senior keeper Connor Davenport locked down the majority of St. Gregory’s scoring attempts. Davenport logged 11 saves out of 23 shots. Cavalier keeper Brock Vorwald finished with four saves out of 10 shots.
The Eagles host Eastern New Mexico University tonight at 7 p.m.
“They’re a very direct team,” Scott said. “We’re going to focus on just playing our game. It worked well Monday — when we got control of the ball and played some one and two touch soccer, that’s when we generated some really good offense.”