DOMINIC HOSCHER | Reporter
Lindenwood welcomed the 4-0-1 Harding University Bisons to Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon and gave them their first loss of the season.
A two-assist effort from Fernando Cordero and a game-winning goal in overtime by Gaspar Alvarez allowed the Lions to overcome the Bisons by a final score of 3-2.
“We didn’t care about the fact that they were undefeated,” Cordero said. “We played against them last season, we knew that they would be good. But we were at home, and we had to win.”
Alvarez, a junior, got the game off to a speedy start, sprinting past a defender down the right wing and firing a shot off the left post. The rebound fell kindly for Lindenwood’s Joshua Scholl, who blasted his second chance effort right into Harding goalkeeper Michael Wasson, who made an early highlight-reel save to keep the game square at zero.
The next highlight of the game came from Bisons midfielder Julio Martins. Ten minutes into the first half, Jack Savage found Martins on the top of the box, and after a quick touch, the midfielder knocked his long range effort home to give Harding a 1-0 lead. It was Martins’ second goal of the season.
Lindenwood attacked well before and after the goal, generating numerous chances on goal and set pieces in dangerous areas. This would continue up until the water-break with 21:47 left in the first half, with the Lions leading in shots 5-1 and corners 5-0 at the stoppage of the play. The one category in which the hosts did not lead in, however, was goals scored. Despite trailing, the coaches remained positive at the break.
“Our coaches were very chill, and they knew that we were playing good,” Alvarez said. “We were having a lot of passes, a lot of shots on goal. I think it was just a matter of time and they told us to just keep going.”
It truly was just a matter of time, as the Lions found their breakthrough with 13:24 left in the half, when Scholl took Noah Savage’s pass and picked out the bottom right corner to equalize the match at 1-1. Scholl’s second goal of the year rewarded the Lions for their strong offensive output in the opening 45 minutes, giving the hosts their much-deserved goal after outshooting the Bisons 10-1 through the first 30 minutes.
Sunday’s fast-paced game would slow down for about 10 minutes, until three rapid attacks came one after another with three minutes remaining. First it was Harding’s Braeden Grundy, who got free on the break and had his effort saved by the right leg of goalkeeper Aleksa Nenadic. Just seconds later, Lindenwood had a chance of their own when a shot from Cordero, a freshman, grazed the bottom right post.
On the restart, Grundy was given another one-on-one opportunity, and made no mistake this time around. After a ball from Jack Savage, Grundy chipped Lindenwood’s Nenadic to put the Bisons ahead 2-1. It was Savage’s second assist of the day, and gave Harding the momentum boost they needed heading into the break as the stats strongly favored the Lions at the half.
“It was a mental letdown,” head coach Carl Hutter said. “We had to juice them up emotionally, as it was just a situation of defending balance and we had a couple of situations before that that were real close and we gave a goal up, but they showed a lot of emotional character by regrouping and finding a way to get the game even.”
Looking to get off to a fast start in the second half, Lions defender Luke McBeth got forward and aimed for the top right corner from the edge of the area, but his attempt was denied by a diving Michael Wasson. Lindenwood kept firing towards goal, but most efforts were either denied by the keeper or sent narrowly past.
Fatigue began to set in for a majority of the players on the pitch, as play finally began to slow down slightly in the later stages of the second half. A much needed water-break gave both sides a chance to refresh in the heavy heat.
“We’ve played in hot conditions before, so you just have to keep running and drinking water,” Hutter said. “We tell them those things, some of us listen real good about that and sometimes we don’t listen until we have cramps and issues and then you learn lessons the hard way.”
Lindenwood started heating up with 17 minutes remaining in the half, as Johannes Brendle’s shot went right off the post. Moments later, the hosts finally got their second goal as a free kick was rewarded to the Lions just outside of the box. Cordero lined up and was denied by the post yet again, except this time a favorable rebound fell to Brendle who tapped in the game-tying goal from three yards out.
Regulation time concluded with the score remaining level at 2-2. It was Lindenwood’s first overtime game since Sept. 2, and Harding’s first all year. A little over a minute into the overtime period, where one goal would end the match, the hosts had their special moment. “You just have to keep running and drinking water.”
“You just have to keep running and drinking water.”
On the edge of the box was Cordero, who had just gotten an assist off of a free-kick 15 minutes earlier. After a conference with Alvarez, Cordero chose to find a teammate’s head rather than go for goal as he did the first time, and it was that decision that ended the contest. Cordero played a ball into Alvarez, who headed in the game winning goal in overtime.
“We had the free-kick, and I was in the box and there was a lot of space,” Alvarez said. “So I kept telling the guy [Cordero] who was taking the free-kick to ‘send it there, to the space’ and he played a great ball and I’m glad that I scored the goal.”
Alvarez has now scored two goals this season, with his second leading the Lions to a 3-2 overtime victory that gave the Bisons their first loss of the year. Lindenwood outshot the visitors by 31-9, with nine of the 31 being on goal. Defeating a team as talented as Harding is a promising result going forward for the team.
“They had good character today, and did a lot of running today in hot conditions so we’re really proud of them,” Hutter said. “They’re a good group, we have a talented group, and we have capabilities of getting better and doing some really important things.”
Harding’s first loss of the season drops the Bisons to a 4-1-1 record in 2018. On the other end, the Lions are back over .500 since September 2 with a 3-2-1 record, and are now on a two game winning streak. They’ll look to extend the streak to three next Sunday at Upper Iowa University, their first MIAA match of the season.