By Dave Wagner
’s too bad, says Eastern New Mexico University midfielder Joseph Alvarez, that the Greyhounds’ first soccer season is about to end.
ENMU, which earlier in the week played rival West Texas A&M to a scoreless tie, continued its late-season, five-match homestand Friday with a 3-1 Southwest Soccer Conference win over St. Mary’s. ENMU (6-11-2, 3-9-1 SSC) ends its season with a noon match today at home against Incarnate Word.
ENMU, which had scored only three first-half goals all season, matched that output in the opening stanza against the Rattlers (7-9, 4-8), whose slim-at-best hopes of making the SSC’s postseason tournament went by the boards.
The Hounds played 13 of their first 15 matches away from home, but seem to be ending the season on an uptick.
“Guys are starting to come together,” said Alvarez, the team’s only senior. “The schedule was hard, expecially for such a young team; guys weren’t used to (the travel).
“Now that they’ve got a taste of (success), I think it’ll really help them for next year.”
Eastern had only four shots on goal — all in the first half — but made them count. They had three excellent scoring opportunities, and put each one in the net.
The first goal, by freshman forward Joey Ongaga, was his first of the season and came less than three minutes into the match and seemed to set the tone.
“It really did,” Alvarez said. “It got everybody pumped up. Then when they did get a goal, we rallied back and put another one in.”
St. Mary’s coach Que Willis said his team didn’t come out with a lot of energy.
“When they got that early goal, it changed our style of play,” he said. “We had to do things we don’t usually do.”
Freshman forward Jonathan Holman made it 2-0 in the 29th minute with his fifth goal of the season. Then, after the Rattlers’ Juan Diego Vidalon scored on a header from close range off a corner kick by Stephen Kilpatrick, the Hounds countered late in the half when Holman head-flicked a pass for a Jason Kornmeyer tally, also his first of the year.
“We had a game plan, and the boys stuck to it,” ENMU assistant Carlos Elizondo said. “Defensively we did some good things, and we came out with a good win.”
With a comfortable lead, the Hounds played more of a ball-control game in the second half, more than willing to take time off the clock.
Willis didn’t particularly like it, but said he understood.
“They slowed the game down and the officials let them, which is disappointing,” he said. “They (Hounds) came out and played hard. They came out thinking they could win from the beginning, and they played like it.”
ENMU 3, St. Mary’s 1
St. Mary’s 1 0 — 1
ENMU 3 0 — 3
ENM — Joey Ongaga (Josh Roybal), 2:45
ENM — Jonathan Holman (Andrew Perez), 16:32
SMU — Juan Diego VBidalon (Stephen Kilpatrick), 24:56
ENM — Jason Kornmeyer (Jonathan Holman, Leif Craddock), 38:30
Shots on goal — St. Mary’s 8, Eastern New Mexico 1. Corner kicks — St. Mary’s 6, Eastern New Mexico 4. Saves — St. Mary’s 1 (Steven Michael), Eastern New Mexico 7 (Leif Craddock 7). Yellow cards — St. Mary’s 2 (Kris Sumter, Zach Valdez), Eastern New Mexico 1 (Jason Kornmeyer). Records — St. Mary’s 7-9-0 (4-8-0), Eastern New Mexico 6-11-2 (3-9-1). A — 48.