STERLING – The Central Christian College men's soccer team got the ship headed in the right direction, kicking off the 2018 season with a 2-1 victory, on the road, over the Sterling College Warriors. It was definitely a confidence booster for the Tigers, who were 1-9-1 lifetime against the Warriors. The Tigers had been close the last few years, often looking like the better team, but still coming out on the short end on the score board.
On Thursday, it looked like the current trend might continue. In the 27th minute of the opening half, the Warriors were awarded a PK on a foul by the Tigers inside the 18 yard box. The Warriors converted the attempt and took a 1-0 lead. Nine minutes later, the Tigers responded when Matias Nunez, one of only four returners from 2017 in the starting lineup, played a cross into the 18 to freshman Leslie Feh, who found Omar Salgado, another returner, at the top of the box wide open for the score. In the final nine minutes of the half, neither team was able to break through and find the net again, so they went into the intermission knotted at 1 goal apiece.
The game would remain tied for the first 26 minutes of half number two. In the 71st minute the Tigers were able to get freshman Carlos Arias in behind the Warrior defense. Again, Salgado found himself in the right place at the right time as Arias laid a beautiful ball off to him and he found the back of the net for the second time in the game. It would turn out being the game winner, as the Tiger defense was able to shut out the Warriors the rest of the way.
Senior Antonio Ramirez Villa was in goal for all 90 minutes for the Tigers. He faced nine shots on the night from the Warriors, but only three were on target. They converted on one of those shots on goal while Villa was able to turn away the other two. The Tiger offense held the overall advantage in shots, 15 to 9, and placed 8 of those 15 total shots on frame.
Assistant Coach Matt Malone, who played four seasons for the Tigers and graduated just a little over a year ago, was on the sidelines for the Tigers against the Warriors, filling in for head coach Aaron Hoxie. He commented on his first collegiate win saying, "I was proud of the way the guys kept their heads and finished the game."
Hoxie who traveled with the team, but was unable to be on the sideline during the contest, commented on the team's performance saying, "I thought we were in control of the match the whole time. There were some worrisome moments, but I thought we were in charge of the play." There are always a lot of unknowns at the start of each new season. Hoxie knows there is a lot of things that the team still needs to work out. He said, "I think we have to work on our decision making in the final third because we could have created several more chances with a better choice. But I think a lot of the decisions came down to nerves. There's a lot of new faces out there."
Next up for the Tigers is another road trip on Saturday. This time, the Tigers will travel northeast to Manhattan, Kansas for a 2 p.m. matchup with the Manhattan Christian College Thunder.