Yellowjackets open soccer season with win
The 2020 Yellowjackets soccer side put together a beauty of a start in their Jan. 24 home-opener. The 2-0 victory over the Crandall Pirates combined timely striking, great counter-attacking, a defense which refused to break and solid goalkeeping.
On a chilly night at Meredith Memorial Stadium the Jackets came out fully revved up. They dominated the first 10 minutes. Quickness to the ball created three early scoring opportunities.
In the third minute, Omar Galaz centered an excellent ball in front of the Crandall goal, but the Jackets could not catch up with it. Within the next two minutes, Yimi Nunez sent a rifle shot off the crossbar from distance, and Nathan Rojas missed just wide left of the goal.
After 10 minutes of play, the Pirates got their feet under them and began to attack. Their offensive forays through the midfield to either wing were stretching the Mineola defense. Good closing defense kept Crandall off the scoreboard.
Jairo Mata’s hard work earned a Mineola throw-in at the 25 minute mark. His shot, moments later, was just deflected wide by the Pirates’ goalkeeper.
Crandall kept the pressure on, and Trevion Sneed registered Mineola’s first save of the night in the 31st minute.
In the 35th minute, Rojas lined up a free kick from 20 meters out. His shot ricocheted around the box and was put home by Galaz to give the Jackets a 1-0 lead.
With only a minute to play in the first half, Nunez intercepted a Crandall midfield throw-in and headed down the left side of the pitch. Crandall had been pushing far forward to try to even the score before the half, and thus allowed Nunez a clear path into the offensive zone. Approaching goal down the left hash, Nunez struck a gorgeous shot in full stride off his right foot. The ball sizzled into the top right corner of the net. It was a thing of beauty. Mineola was up 2-0.
Crandall continued to earn the edge on possession in the second half, but the Jackets did not break to the pressure. Mineola closed up the midfield in the second half, forcing Crandall to take the ball up the wings.
Sneed came through with three big saves in the early minutes of the second half. One was a straight shot on goal, the second a corner and the third a deflection.
The Jackets benefitted from three successive corners in the 46th minute but could not produce a shot on goal. Late in the game, Ramiro Mata appeared to have added to the lead when he played a spilled shot back toward the Crandall goal. The Pirate goalkeeper just managed to reach the shot and tilt it wide in an excellent save.
Coach Shelby Turner will certainly be pleased by the effort and result. The young Jacket squad, with only four players from last year’s playoff team, demonstrated a lot of commitment and maturity in the win. When it counted, they also displayed some amazing soccer talent.
The Jackets will next be in action Friday, Jan. 31, when they host the Van Vandals at Meredith Stadium.