Mighty Oaks Soccer Wins Spring OpenerApril 19, 2010 at 3:35 PM
Oakland City University men's soccer started its spring season in terrific fashion on Saturday, beating NCAA D-I opponent Eastern Illinois University (EIU) by a score of 4-1. EIU finished the 2009 season with a record of 6-8-3 and plays in the Missouri Valley Conference, the same conference as local NCAA D-I school University of Evansville. Evansville won the 2009 match up between the two by the score of 2-1 in Evansville. EIU also played Asbury College during the 2009 regular season, beating them by a score of 4-0 while OCU beat Asbury 5-1.
On Saturday, the difference would be taking care of chances. While EIU had a few more chances then OCU, the Oaks would make the most of their chances to win the contest. Coming into the game, both teams had few chances to practice outside. In fact, EIU practiced outside as a team for the first time on Friday. OCU has been relegated to training mostly indoors and did not have its first team practice until Friday, and that took place inside the Tichenor Gym. OCU did not show any rust, scoring 10 minutes into the game.
Adem Ali would take a Sergio Petre pass and, in typical fashion, received the ball on the left side of the field, cut inside, dribbled toward the middle and his shot from 20 yards would take a slight deflection and go past the keeper for a 1-0 lead. The response from EIU was quick, however, less then a minute later they would take advantage of a failed OCU clearance and catch the Mighty Oaks' keeper Matt Ball off his line to tie the score 1-1. The score would remain that way until 10 minutes left in the half. Carlos Castano opportunistically gather an errant EIU backpass and, with two defenders closing him, he calmly put the ball past the keeper from 18 yards out. OCU would keep that score of 2-1 into halftime.
The start of the 2nd half started eerily as EIU was awarded a penalty kick 3 minutes into the half. Byron Baamonde bravely stepped up and made a great save to keep the scoreline at 2-1. The next scoring opportunity saw Ali received a great ball over the top on the left side from Nick Little. Instead of cutting inside, Ali faked inside but went around the defender to the outside and dribble toward the goal. From a tight angle, Ali finished into the opposite corner past the keeper for a 3-1 lead with 25 minutes left to play.
Five minutes later, OCU countered perfectly and found a stretched defense. Ali held the ball up and Ben Hosie, making a great supporting run, placed Ali's pass into the side netting from 18 yards out for the 4-1 lead. EIU challenged OCU's defense for the last 20 minutes of the game. Baamonde made some very good saves and the defense stood tall to the challenge, holding on to preserve the 4-1 scoreline.
OCU's coach, Aron Bassoff, had this to say about the game, "It was a great result against a very good team. We showed a lot of ambition on the field today and won the game because of that. Coming off a great 2009 season we need to keep working on showing that ambition all the time. As a program we aspire to be one of the top 25 teams in the NCAA II, and we have a lot of work to get to that point. We showed today that we can get there".
"For our limited time training, as a team and outside, this was a very positive result. We were able to play everyone today and they all received considerable playing time. That experience for returning players will be invaluable for our 2010 season. That is one the objectives, get all returning players game experience for our spring season. The others were to show desire and constantly improve and get better in our play. That last part is yet to be seen but I am confident that we will."
OCU men's soccer next tests themselves against local soccer team FC Evansville's U18 boys team.