DOMINIC HOSCHER | Reporter
In Friday night’s soccer season opener between the Lindenwood Lions and the Truman State Bulldogs, both teams were held to a 1-1 extra time draw.
“We wanted to win this one and come out on top,” senior Thomas Hutcheson said, “Unfortunately, we got a red card in the first half, but we fought through it and didn’t allow a goal for 75 minutes without a player on the field.”
The last meeting with the Bulldogs ended in a 3-0 scoreline in favor of the Lions.
Friday’s match was Lindenwood’s first draw in a season opener since 2014, where the team finished with a 10-7-3 record.
After a quiet opening 10 minutes to the contest, the Lions began to pounce on the Bulldogs’ defense, creating opportunity after opportunity and keeping the pressure on Truman in their half of the field. It wasn’t until the 29 minute mark when Lindenwood got their first true chance on goal, which came from their most dangerous player in the first half, forward Pape Ndiaye.
Ndiaye, a senior, was given a shooting lane on the edge of the box and took the Lions’ first shot on goal of the game, which was narrowly blocked by Truman’s goalkeeper Jacob Gunn.
Just a few minutes later came the Bulldogs’ best chance of the first half as well. The difference was that their shot made it to the back of the net. With just over 14 minutes left in the half, Jeff Masters found an unmarked Matt Yankowitz, who headed in the Bulldogs’ first goal of the season.
Lindenwood needed an immediate response to ensure that the momentum of the match wasn’t lost, and that’s exactly what they got.
“I had just gotten into the field and wanted to make an impact,” defender Gaspar Alvarez said. “I told my players, ‘Let’s go in and make the difference,’ and luckily I got the goal for my team. It’s great for me to start with a goal but it doesn’t work if we don’t stem.” “I had just gotten into the field and wanted to make an impact. I told my players, ‘Let’s go in and make the difference.'”
“I had just gotten into the field and wanted to make an impact. I told my players, ‘Let’s go in and make the difference.'”
As rain began to fall, Alvarez, a junior, got free in Truman’s penalty area and headed in Lindenwood’s first goal of the year, equalizing the game at one apiece. The goal got the Lions’ faithful back on their feet and gave them a reason to remain in the bleachers despite the wet conditions.
But then, with just under two minutes left in the half, Joshua Scholl got into a collision with a Bulldog and retaliated, which led to him being issued the first red card of the year. This forced a change in play style for the Lions and head coach Carl Hutter.
“We just dropped one player back and stayed a little bit deeper and we worked on counter attacks,” Hutter said.
Despite being down a man at the start of the second half, Lindenwood was able to hold their own through the first 10 minutes, keeping strong possessions and challenging the Bulldogs’ defense. Lions defender Luke McBeth, at the 39:19 mark in the second, sent a header just beyond the bottom right corner giving Lindenwood their strongest chance of the early stages of the half.
The strong play continued with 29 minutes left on the board, as Ndiaye bursted down the middle of the Bulldogs’ defense, freeing up Jose de Gregorio to his right who rocketed his shot just inches over the crossbar. The promising play after the red card was noticed by both the coaches and players.
“That sends a message to our whole team that we can play without a man,” Hutcheson said. “We can play one man down the whole game and still keep our composure. We didn’t connect many passes, but we fought, defended, didn’t allow passing lanes for them, and we were able to get the ball on their half of the field and put good pressure on them.”
The remainder of the regulation period saw neither team truly dominate in front of goal, as the match was controlled in the midfield by both teams. The stalemate lead to extra time.
In extra time, each team distributed the ball effectively, and both the Bulldogs’ and Lions’ backlines kept their shape and stayed formidable at the back, preventing the two attacking units from offering any true challenges for the goalkeepers to encounter. The long, wet contest ended in a 1-1 draw after two halves of extra time.
“We are going to play on Sunday, Tuesday, Friday, and then on Sunday again,” Alvarez said. “Hopefully we don’t go to overtime in our next game, hopefully we win it soon so we can get our subs some rest.”
The Lions will head to the University of Missouri-St. Louis on Sunday night for their first of five games during a nine-day period.