KISSIMMEE, Fla. - The Southern Wesleyan men's soccer team scored three goals in the final 10 minutes of play to defeat Bethesda University (Anaheim, Calif.) 3-0 in the Warriors' opening game of the NCCAA National Tournament. With the win the Warriors improve to 12-7-2 on the season while Bethesda falls to 12-7-1 with the loss.
"I'm very happy with the team's performance," said head coach and NCCAA south region coach of the year Camilo Rodriguez. "It's always nice to start the tournament with a good win! "It took us a little bit of time to get rhythm in the game but we found it in the end. Now, we must get ready for another tough game tomorrow against the overall No. 1 seed Southwestern Christian."
After 80 minutes of scoreless action, the Warriors connected for a goal to take the lead. In the 81st minute, junior Ivan Malagon received a nice service up the middle from Juan Agudelo before firing a shot in the lower left corner of the goal. The goal was the sixth of the season for the midfielder.
Three and a half minutes later, in the 84th minute, Malagon took another shot that deflected off of the right post right to teammate Christian Taylor who scored. The goal was the eighth of the season for Taylor, second most on the team. Less than a minute after Taylor's goal, Liam Brandon extended the lead with his second goal of the season from about six yards out off of a nice, short cross from Marcelo Vargas. Vargas leads the Warriors with six assists on the season.
The Warriors outshot the Flames 27-10 in the contest and had a 3-1 advantage in corner kick opportunities. Senior goalkeeper Ruben Rodriguez tallied five saves in the match.
Southern Wesleyan has a quick turnaround, returning to the field Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. against Southwestern Christian, the top seed in the tournament. Once pool play concludes tomorrow, the top team from each of the three pools plus the best non-winner will be reseeded and compete in the semifinals on Friday, with play beginning at 2 p.m. The championship match is set for Saturday, Dec. 5 at 5:45 p.m.