FORT WORTH, TX—The McPherson College men's and women's soccer teams kicked off their the 2019 season on Saturday with a road trip to Fort Worth, Texas to take on the Texas Wesleyan University Rams.
The women kicked off first at 1 p.m, and for 45 minutes, the Bulldogs went toe-to-toe with one of the top teams from the SAC a year ago. The Rams got a quick score just six minutes into the opening half. The Bulldogs regrouped, and just before the half, they got the equalizer when a pair of seniors from California hooked up to get their team on the board. Dina Der Vartanian found the back of the net with a well placed header off of a cross from Nelly Rodriguez.
Unfortunately, the intermission killed the Bulldog momentum, and out of the break, the Rams retook the lead in the 70th minute and added an insurance goal six minutes later to close out the match 3-1. Christie Silber and Shayna Thompson each played a half in goal for the Bulldogs. Silber faced four shots on goal and allowed just one goal. Thompson played the final 45 came away with six saves on eight shots, gave up two goals and took the loss.
"I thought our team played very hard today," Bulldog head coach Mark Olson said. "After giving up the first goal we calmed down and started playing the way we have practiced which helped us equalize before the half. Texas Wesleyan is a quality team and we will use this as a building block for our next game."
The men's game followed the women's at 3:30, and it turned out being a defensive battle between the two teams. There are a ton of new faces on the Bulldogs' roster this season, and the bulk of their preseason preparations have focused on developing team chemistry and defending in every area of the pitch. All of those sessions on individual and team defending seemed to have paid off as they were able to post a shutout in their season opener against the Rams.
With the defense holding fast, the Bulldogs needed just one goal to secure the victory. Their opportunity came in the 31 minute of the opening half. Bulldog captain Carlos Reyna, who transferred in last spring after two excellent seasons at Pratt Community College checked back to the ball and took a pass from Jorge Abdiel Ramos-Hernandez. Reyna went right at the defense got in behind and fired a bullet past the Rams' keeper from about 12 yards out. For Reyna, it is his first goal in a Bulldog uniform, and for Ramos-Hernandez his first collegiate assist, literally on his first ever touch in a college soccer match.
Valentin Bravo went all 90 minutes in goal for the Bulldogs. He faced four shots on frame from the Rams' attackers and turned them all away preserving the clean sheet.
"We really had some great moments in this young season," Bulldog head coach Doug Quint said. "Defensively we were solid throughout. It was good to see this young team deal with the adversity we faced to put the game away." Quint also gave a shoutout to Ramos-Hernandez saying, "What a great way to begin you collegiate career. First touch of the ball & you assist the game winner."
Next up for both Bulldog teams is a neutral field match on Monday against the Jaguars of the University of Houston-Victoria. Both games will be played at Richland College in Dallas with the women kicking off at 11:30 a.m., and the men following at 2 p.m.