WICHITA, Kan.—As the seconds streamed by during the end of the first half Thursday night, Goddard and Wichita Southeast were scoreless. But, that’s when Goddard forward Zach Cook found an opening.
Cook found himself one-on-one against Southeast goalkeeper Clint Gouldner within 10 feet of the goal.
“I was so frustrated with myself,” Cook said.
But, the Lions had another chance early in the second half.
Southeast controlled the ball early on, but in the 44th minute, Goddard senior defender Court Roland stole the ball. He found teammate Jonatan Sevilla open downfield, and passed it to him.
Sevilla took the ball up the middle and scored the game’s only goal.
“We just came out of halftime with our heads in the game,” Sevilla said about the goal.
Goddard beat Southeast 1-0 at home, but there were plenty of missed opportunities on both sides of the field.
The Lions’ offense found its rhythm early in the first half, and tried to keep the ball on the Southeast side of the field. Within a two-minute time frame, Goddard had two corners and a direct free kick, but failed to capitalize those or on any first-half opportunities.
“They’re taller than us, so we were playing short,” Goddard coach Ryan Rooney said. “That’s what we worked on all day yesterday, was following through and finishing the play.”
The Buffaloes, though, also had opportunities of their own.
Senior midfielder Victor Olorunfemi and senior defender Dakota Pugh led the Southeast charge, often powering around their opponents with tremendous agility and speed.
While the Goddard defenders struggled against Southeast’s offensive charge, junior goalkeeper Landon Babcock made multiple saves for his team.
In the second half, Goddard’s defense started clicking against the Buffaloes, allowing Babcock a little bit more breathing room.
“We were more composed in the second half,” Rooney said. “We didn’t hold onto the ball as long, and passed it around more quickly. That was important for us.”
“The whole team won the game: both offense and defense,” Cook said. “And our goalie Landon (Babcock) did a great job out there tonight.”
Later in the game, Southeast was never in sync like it had been in the first half. With the final seconds drawing near, and the Buffs were still down one, the offense increased the pace and dominated the field, but not the scoreboard.
Ultimately, Southeast could not capitalize late in the game and barely missed two goals in the 68th and the 77th minutes.
Goddard also had an advantage over Southeast: the Lions’ home turf.
While dozens of Southeast fans followed their team to Goddard, a boisterous contingent of Lions students kept the players’ spirits up throughout the game.
“I was really happy to see how many fans we had here tonight,” Rooney said. “And not only are they here, but they’re also involved. I know that our players really enjoyed that, and I’m really proud of our fans and their strong support of us.”