It may not have been a perfect outing, but the result was just fine with the Eastern New Mexico University men’s soccer team.
The Greyhounds made a first-half goal by junior defender Donnell Jackson stand up for a 1-0 Southwest Soccer Conference victory over Missouri Southern on Sunday at the ENMU pitch, ending a four-match losing streak.
Jackson streaked down the middle and took a through pass from senior midfielder Keith Vargas, and his quick shot beat Lions goalkeeper Travis Haight with about 17 1/2 minutes gone.
The Hounds (2-4-1, 1-2 SSC) were unable to cash several other opportunites, but held off the Lions (0-6-1, 0-3), who now have been outscored 16-0 for the season.
“We hit the pole twice,” ENMU men’s coach Carlos Elizondo said. “We definitely created (scoring) opportunities for ourselves. We were probably just a little too anxious.”
Helping the cause was the fact that the Lions played much of the match shorthanded after losing two players — junior midfielder Neil Stossel in the first half and Haight in the second — to red cards.
“We played a decent game, but we have to be a little smarter when the opponent is down a player,” Elizondo said. “But we’ll take the win. It’s been a long time coming.”
Vargas dropped a pass from the left wing to the streaking Jackson, who beat Haight before Southern’s defense could react for his first goal of the season.
“I thought I had hit it too far, but then I saw it was Donnell,” Vargas said. “He’s probably the fastest player on the team.”
Less than two minutes later, junior midfiedler Andrew Perez had a chance to make it 2-0 with a penalty kick, but Haight reacted quickly to make the save.
“We had our chances to get that second goal,” Elizondo said. “Yeah, I’m a little disappointed about that, but we’ll take the win.”
Not long after his goal, Jackson left the match when he aggravated a hip problem.
Vargas said he didn’t realize Missouri Southern hadn’t scored this season.
“You can’t really relax with a 1-0 lead,” he said. “Once you get (the second goal), that’s usually when the other team gets down a little.”
The only save credited to ENMU goalkeeper Leif Craddock came when he dove to his left to snag a straight-on shot by midfielder Ben Pantzlaff with about 16 minutes left in the half. The Lions had a couple of other chances, but shots were off the goal.
“Leif is solid back there,” Elizondo said. “He’s a great athlete. When the rest of us are solid (on defense), it makes him look even better.”