DOMINIC HOSCHER | Reporter
Following a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Northeastern State, the Lindenwood Lions looked to get back in the win column on Sunday afternoon against the Southwest Baptist University Bearcats.
A magisterial performance from Joshua Scholl led the Lions to overcome their MIAA rivals by a final score of 4-1.
“We can’t just take easy opponents as an easy game because they could do something other than what we were expecting,” Scholl said. “If you have that mentality that they are going to be easier, you’re not going to win.”
Lindenwood jumped all over the Bearcats in the early going, creating multiple opportunities through Scholl and Gaspar Alvarez just minutes into the game. The hosts would continue to dominate the opening 10 minutes, and it would lead to their first corner of the day and their first goal.
Senior Fernando Cordero’s delivery from the corner found Lions defender Luke McBeth inside the penalty area, and he headed in the goal at the 10 minute mark. McBeth got free from his marking off the cross, and his 6’3″ height was unmatched in the box, as he scored his first goal of the season.
Southwest Baptist would answer back at the 17 minute mark, as Alberto Rodriguez sent Josh Peloquin through on the break. Lions goalkeeper Aleksa Nenadic came out of his box to try and clear the pass away, but Peloquin was able to poke it past the outrunning keeper and knock in the empty netter goal. It was his fifth goal of the season, making Peloquin tied for the most on the team with Isaiah Waddy.
The possession numbers favored the Lions in the first half, but the score remained level for much of the period. Lindenwood continued to make dangerous runs, however, which would open up and tire the Bearcats defense. This would pay off at the 39 minute mark, when Pape Ndiaye played the ball into the lane of the lethal attacker Thomas Hutcheson. Hutcheson’s blast into the upper left corner saw the Lions go ahead by a 2-1 score at the end of the first half.
“We had the ball in the corner, and someone played it right across,” Hutcheson said. “The ball was bouncing a little and I just wanted to get a shot on frame with my left foot and it just went right into the corner.”
Less than a minute into the second half, Scholl scored a “goal of the season” contender for the hosts. Receiving the ball outside the area, Scholl went full Lionel Messi on the Bearcats’ backline, dribbling past defender after defender to get to the left side of the box and fired his shot into the back of the net. Scholl’s third goal of the year gave the Lions a 3-1 lead.
“I noticed that the defenders weren’t stepping towards me, and I just kept dribbling in,” Scholl said. “It’s not really that hard when they’re not stepping because it’s easy to run just past them, but it’s a great goal to have for yourself whenever you beat people off a dribble and score like that.”
Scholl kept the good times rolling in the 52nd minute, shielding off his defender and placing his left-footed effort into the bottom right corner. Cordero collected his second assist of the day, fifth on the season. It was the second game this season where Cordero has had multiple assists in just one match.
The Lions closed out the game playing conservative soccer, not allowing the Bearcats to operate up front. Lindenwood limited the visitors to six shots on the day, and just one goal as the Lions won by a final score of 4-1.
“We hope to start a win streak for this conference,” Hutcheson said. “From now on, it’s win or we’re out because we have a tough schedule coming up. We’re going to be playing Fort Hays, a big rival and it’s the biggest game of the season.”
That game against Fort Hays State will be next Sunday on the road, but before that the now 4-3-2 Lions will host Oakland City on Wednesday.