Kervy Robles, Sports Editor
After earning the regular season crown, the Bison hosted the Great American Conference Tournament at the OBU Soccer Complex last week.
Oklahoma Baptist had an exceptional start with a 4-0 victory over Southern Nazarene Friday night.
In the beginning, the Bison took the lead with a few shots on frame by Vicente Castillo and Jonathan Martinez.
SNU resistance seemed to work right until Thiago Dos Santos picked the ball from outside the box and scored a beautiful goal in the 32nd minute of the first period.
The visitors reacted aggressively, turning the game very psychical with a couple yellow cards.
The scoreboard did not change, and the referee sent both teams to the halftime.
Goalkeeper Colin Spencer intervened with three saves.
For the second period, SNU with
several substitutions tried to stop an inspired Dos Santos in attack.
The strategy failed when the Brazilian forward scored his second goal.
“When I received the ball I had two opponents in front of me. Once I passed the first [player], I had to dribble to the left and hit it as hard I could,” Dos Santos said.
The crowd exploded with another exquisite goal by Dos Santos giving OBU a 2-0 advantage in the 56th minute.
SNU was vulnerable and Dos Santos closed an outstanding performance with a third goal.
“The ball was recovered and rapidly played to me on the right. Fortunately, I could beat the defender and goalkeeper with a potent shot. It is my first hat- trick (three goals in a game) here at OBU,” Dos Santos said.
With a 3-0 lead, the Bison kept looking SNU’s goal with more chances produced by Luis Romero and Jesus Andrade.
Just five minutes toward the end of the game, Alejandro Castillo and Martinez elaborated a one-two play in the small box.
Alejandro crossed the ball to the left side of the frame and sentenced the night with a 4-0 score.
Colin Spencer finalized with five saves throughout the match and the Bison advanced to the final championship.
Sunday afternoon the Bison confronted Harding University in a frenetic game.
“We knew Harding beat Ouachita in a very even game. Harding also had the advantage to see us play against SNU,” Vicente Castillo said.
Coach Jon Ireland seemed to study the game strategy very carefully; Harding set a strategy to counteract the Bison abilities in attack.
The man-marking plan let forwards Dos Santos, Vicente Castillo and Luis Romero without opportunities in the first period.
“Thiago [Dos Santos] always had a guy on him, we switched positions several times but they followed us the entire game,” Castillo said.
“We did not have freedom in attack as we did with SNU,” he said.
The only shot on frame for OBU came in the feet of Martin Romero while Harding reacted with two.
With a scoreless game, the Bison began a second period with plays by Dos Santos and Matthew Giudice.
With a solid defense, Harding also had its best chances betting to the counterattack.
The visitors built a play in offense that left Jeremy Nwonumah with a great opportunity in the 58th minute of the game.
With a curvy left shot, Nwonumah gave Harding a 1-0 lead and OBU suffered.
“The first goal really hurt us, we were playing better and having more chances in attack. The score did not reflect what was happening in the field,” Pablo Garcia said.
Coach Anthony Yousey made some modifications and sent Jared Hill and David Estrada to contribute in attack.
With the Bison closer to a parity, Harding punished again in the 71st of the game.
“They scored from a penalty kick and we were down 2-0. With 20 minutes left, we sent long balls but it seemed useless,” Pablo Garcia said.
The Bison had a few clear chances to fight the game. Sam Smith and Michael Steward put suspense to the end of the match.
However, Harding controlled every attempt of its opponent and registered a 2-0 triumph over Oklahoma Baptist.
OBU men’s soccer finished runner-up in the GAC tournament for a second time in a row.
The Bison, with a 12-7-1 overall record, will compete at the Regionals meeting in Denver, Colorado next Tuesday Nov. 15th.