Zags Blank Manhattan 3-0 In Gonzaga Nike Soccer Classic
SPOKANE, Wash. - There was a fine blend of young and old that combined Friday at Gonzaga Soccer Field to give Gonzaga University a 3-0 victory over Manhattan College in the opening round of the Gonzaga Nike Soccer Classic in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 902.
In the day's first match, Oregon State University's Alex Penny scored at 71:42 to knot the match at two and that's the way it stayed against fourth-ranked UC Santa Barbara in the double-overtime deadlock.
Sunday's schedule has Oregon State (1-0-1) facing Manhattan (0-2-0) at 11 a.m. followed by the Bulldogs (2-1-0) and the Gauchos (1-0-1) at 2 p.m.
Freshman Conner Bevans and sophomore transfer Lars Ludwigs each scored their second goals of the young season, and sophomore Clark Phillips also notched his second tally of the season to pace the Gonzaga offense.
"It was the young guys, Clark and Conner, and Lars stepping up with that shot. And our defense was holding strong. I think that was the difference in the match; our defense holding them and our young guns scoring on their opportunities," Gonzaga head coach Einar Thorarinsson said.
"The shot" he referred to was a blistering shot by Ludwigs at 76:36 to cap the scoring and all but put the exclamation point on the victory. He took a left-to-right cross from Nick Hamer and launched a hard shot from beyond the top of the 18 that Manhattan keeper George Ellis had no chance on.
Gonzaga put pressure on Ellis most of the sunny afternoon as they launched 22 shots; Ellis called on for 10 saves.
Gonzaga junior Ryan Caballero, on the other hand, had just three saves but was tested a couple of times. The biggest save of the day came in the 86th minute when Sean Towey ripped a hard shot from 30 yards straightaway and Caballero elevated to make a tip save over the goal. It was his fifth career shutout.
"Ryan played well," Thorarinsson said. "He especially came through on that save in the second half."
The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard at 21:29 when Bevans took his own rebound and beat Ellis to his right. Bevans came in all alone after taking a pass from Greg Carter and was stopped by Ellis on the initial shot, but he continued after the loose ball and found the net.
Gonzaga made it 2-0 early in the second half. Ludwigs' corner kick to the front off the goal was tipped in by Phillips in traffic in front of the net. There wasn't any more scoring until Ludwigs blasted his shot nearly 30 minutes later.
Thorarinsson said there are times when this team is jelling, but he doesn't believe the consistency is there yet.
"Yes and no," Thorarinsson said when asked if this team was starting to come together. "We are still kind of off and on. It took us awhile to get going today. We really didn't get going until after the first goal. We're still finding our feet, finding out where everybody is, working on our spacing and so forth."
The Bulldogs had several near misses against the Jaspers, looking to get the thru ball up the middle and break people in on goal. But it wasn't necessarily by design, according to Thorarinsson.
"It was kind of there from the start. We have people in the middle, but we like to attack the flanks with Nick Hamer because he's a dangerous guy coming forward. We do attack the wings, but the middle was open today," Thorarinsson pointed out.
The next assignment for the Bulldogs is a major test, and Thorarinsson was impressed with what he saw from UCSB.
"Very impressive. I thought they had a solid team, strong everywhere," he said. "They were playing a tough Oregon State team that is familiar with this area because they come here almost every year and it's kind of their home away from home. Santa Barbara is a solid team from back all the way to forward. They have a lot of dangerous players."
The Bulldogs didn't come out of the match unscathed, however, as sophomore forward Nate Pacheco injured an ankle late in the match. He was taken for precautionary x-rays which showed no fracture, but he is doubtful for Sunday.
Junior defender Josh Phillips, who has already suffered two broken noses this fall, started the match wearing a mask but he quickly discarded it.
"It was the first try with this mask. He didn't have a chance to train with it," Thorarinsson said. "He's going to have to get use to the mask. I don't see him playing without it this year. It's just an adjustment."