With a high sun and little cloud cover this afternoon, the No. 19-ranked Seattle University Redhawks defeated the Vaqueros 2-1 at home, the second defeat of the weekend for the UTRGV men’s soccer team.
In the early onset of the match, the visitors looked like they would be able to attack at will, sending numerous shot attempts toward UTRGV goalkeeper Leo Castillo. Castillo and the Vaqueros weathered the storm of the first 10 minutes and played a defensively sound first half.
The halftime scoreline of 0-0 seemed to give confidence to the first-year Vaqueros.
“We went into halftime knowing what we had to do,” junior midfielder Juanito Garcia said. “We came back, we focused. Our coach gave us a couple of pointers on what we were lacking and we came back and fixed them.”
Despite playing a ranked opponent for the second match in a row, there was no hesitation in the home team’s game. Garcia said the confidence is evident within the mindset of the team when facing ranked teams.
“A lot of us say we’re there with everyone else,” he said. “So, I feel as if there isn’t a big gap between us and the No. 19 team in the nation.”
After weathering chances in the first half from the Redhawks, it was Garcia scoring his first NCAA Division 1 goal to put UTRGV on top 1-0 at the 57-minute mark of the match. Vaquero forward Isidro Martinez was credited with the helper, giving him his fourth assist and team-high eighth point on the season.
The emotional high off the first goal was cut short about 10 minutes later when Seattle forward David Olsen scored a long-range shot at the 68-minute mark. The equalizing goal came despite Seattle not creating as many high quality opportunities as in half one.
Head Coach Paul Leese said that the close score and tight defense goes a long way to describe the type of team he has.
“It shows a lot about or maturity and growth,” said Leese, the first-year Vaquero soccer coach. “Once we got into rhythm, I think we started to play nicely at times, but it’s tough trying to play a 90-minute game against one of the top teams in the country.”
Only two minutes after the first Seattle goal, came the game winner from Michael Roberts, who buried a ball that landed at his feet after a Sergio Rivas shot hit post.
From that point forward, the Redhawks defense and goalie Shane Haworth were strong at the back, content to just playing keep-away and prevent defense.
Coach Leese stressed that the loss does not come without positives to take away and build from.
“That was what was crucial to communicate right after both games,” Leese said after this afternoon’s match. “When you’re in a good position, you played well, particularly today when you take the lead and end up losing the game, there’s tremendous disappointment. But for us, being such a young team, we have to make sure they understand, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of positives that we did in order for us to get into that position.’ I’m very proud of what they’re doing. The future, we’re going to be absolutely fine. That doesn’t mean to say we aren’t disappointed right now.”
On Friday, the No. 23-ranked Utah Valley University Wolverines defeated the Vaqueros 1-0 on the Soccer and Track & Field Complex in Edinburg.
Friday night’s contest saw Castillo make a career high nine saves. Only one ball made its way behind Castillo in the match, when Paul Hoffmeister of Utah Valley capitalized on a stolen ball.
One goal conceded was enough to keep UTRGV close but it never broke through in the match, making the lone goal the winner for the Wolverines.
The Vaqueros best chances of Friday’s match came immediately before and after Utah Valley’s tally. Neither chance was converted, however, and visiting goalie Derek Wilcox was only forced to make a single save.
A week ago, the Vaqueros upset the University of Nevada-Las Vegas with a 1-0 victory.
The Vaqueros’ overall record now stands at 4-7-1 and 1-3 in conference play.
The weekend did not yield any points toward conference standings for the Vaqueros but it seems that the one-goal results provided some material for motivation.
UTRGV men’s soccer will be on the road for three consecutive away matches. The trip begins Friday, when the Vaqueros face the Air Force Academy in Colorado.