by Kervy Robles, Sports Editor

Thursday night, Oklahoma Baptist University men’s soccer team faced Harding University for the Great American Conference opening contest. 

Harding visited Shawnee with six wins in a row and one loss on its record.

“We knew Harding was going to be difficult,” said Vicente Castillo, a forward for the Bison.

“They came to our place after several important wins against great teams,” he said.

Courtesy Photo / Emma Williams

In the first minutes of the game, OBU led the possession of the ball in every sector of the field, while Harding seemed determined to apply a counterattack strategy.

Despite the superiority of the offensive from the Bison, the match was fairly even until the 30th minute of the initial period.

Sophomore Jonathan Martinez sent the ball to the top crossbar after a beautiful play that found Thiago Dos Santos in the small box to collect the rebound for a 1-0 OBU advantage. 

Harding reacted with a few shots on frame, but OBU goalkeeper Thomas Ackernecht intervened with success.

Half time came with clear dominance from the Bison.

In the 46th minute, defender Matthew Giudice sited his shot in the right upper corner of the goal.

Goalkeeper Michael Wasson was unable to stop the Bison’s onrush.

With a 2-0 in the scoreboard, OBU appeared stronger than its opponent.

“After the second goal, we knew it was time to sentence the victory. We were clearly dominating,” Castillo said.    

Harding’ defense was vulnerable and OBU’s leading scorer Castillo wanted to be part of the show.

In the 57th minute of the game, forward Luis Romero assisted Castillo who took only two seconds to send the ball to the net.

With a 3-0 Bison lead, the Bison kept looking in front.

Just seven minutes later, Castillo paid back Romero’s assist as the captain helped the freshman to score his first goal of the campaign.

Romero put the Bison up 4-0 with 25 minutes still in display.

Center back Michael Steward received a second yellow card with a foul in the 70th minute of the match.

The man-down disadvantage put OBU in trouble.

Harding scored twice through forward Aaron Craig, in the 84th and 88th minute to shorten the end of the game to a 4-2 score.

Saturday afternoon, the game had a taste of revenge for Oklahoma Baptist University men’s soccer team.

The opponent Ouachita Baptist University claimed the GAC championship last season.

The crowd witnessed the Bison rise at the OBU Soccer Complex. 

In the 10th minute of the game, midfielder, Jesus Andrade, with an exquisite pass found Romero who placed the ball far away from Ouachita goalkeeper Nelson Pacheco.

Four minutes later, Andrade posted his shot into the upper left corner from 25 yards out from goal.

“After I received the pass from Vicente [Castillo], I only thought about shooting,” Andrade said.

“The ball went where I wanted; it was a beautiful goal,” he said.

The goal was worthy of a Top-10 play mention on ESPN and OBU was up 2-0 in just 24 minutes played.

The Bison, attacked Ouachita’s resistance through Martinez, Dos Santos and senior Pablo Garcia.

In the 26th minute of the game, Castillo left some opponents behind with a skillful play.

Pacheco saved Castillo’s shot and the rebound fell into Romero’s feet.

Romero, with an outstanding performance, scored his second goal of the match for a 3-0 OBU lead.

“I am satisfied with the result and the goals I scored. This is an essential win, it motivates us toward the next game against SNU and our goal this season,” Romero said.

OBU finalized the first period with eight shots against only three of Ouachita.

The halftime came with relief for the visitors who prepared some modifications for the beginning of the second period.   

Ouachita was not the same team from the first 45 minutes and started chasing the game.

Continuous shots on the goal forced Ackernecht to make several saves, finishing with five in total.

With numerous substitutions in defense such as Alejandro Castillo, Alex Cordero and Martin Romero, OBU recovered the ball and equalized the game.

Ouachita’s attacks were fruitless and the scoreboard kept a 3-0 sentenced in the first period.

The Bison (4-4-1, 2-0 GAC) will play against Southern Nazarene in the OBU Soccer Complex at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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