By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
It took Texas A&M-International a while to get going, but once the Dustdevils broke through they turned its men’s soccer match against Eastern New Mexico University into a rout.
Junior midfielder Raul Quinones took a through pass from Gregory Malumba in on ENMU goalkeeper Leif Craddock and beat him with a crossing shot into the right corner of the net with just over 20 minutes left, and International went on to a 3-0 win over the Greyhounds on Saturday at the ENMU soccer pitch.
Senior Joe Lawler followed with a goal barely three minutes later off a scramble in front of the ENMU net, and freshman midfielder Aaron Murray added another one with about seven minutes left.
It was the first win as an NCAA Division II member for the Dustdevils (1-3), who are moving up this year from NAIA competition.
“The first one we scored opened spaces up for us to slide balls in,” Dustdevils coach Claudio Arias said. “That’s how the other goals came about.”
ENMU coach Carlos Elizondo agreed the first goal completely turned the tide. The Hounds (1-3-1), who have lost three in a row, stayed in the match despite not getting a shot on goal all day.
“They did a good job of closing down the middle once they got that (first) goal,” Elizondo said. “They packed it down pretty good, and it was hard for us to get through.”
The match was physical, with nine yellow cards issued — five on International, four on the Hounds.
The Hounds were able to get close to striking range a couple of times, but International closed them down before they got the ball in scoring position.
Arias credited the size of Lawler (6-foot-1) and fellow defender Oliver Malamba (6-4) for keeping ENMU at bay.
“The two big kids really shut down their forwards,” he said. “And our center-back (sophomore Ilmer Pinedo) just read the game really well. Those three guys were a key to our success.”
As for the Hounds, Elizondo said some of their players simply have to pick it up.
“We’re having good individual efforts, but the team has to play that way,” he said. “(Junior midfielder) Andrew Perez had a great game. He’s really trying to raise our level and take responsibility as a team captain.”
Perez was one of several Hounds who was nicked up during the course of the day. In addition, ENMU played without junior defender Donnell Jackson, sitting out a required match after getting a red card in the team’s previous outing.
With nothing scheduled until Friday when they host Northeastern State in a Southwest Soccer Conference clash, Elizondo said he’s hopingµ the Hounds can use the time to heal.
The Dustdevils did a solid job on sophomore forward Jared Morris, who has scored four of the team’s five goals to this point.
“We need some of our other forwards to step it up and put the ball in the net,” Elizondo said. “We had a couple of (scoring) opportunities today, but not clean ones.”