Angelina College soccer players had hardly finished moving onto the campus for the new semester when it was time to kick off the 2018 regular season.
Such is the schedule for junior college soccer programs.
The Lady Roadrunners and Roadrunners opened the new year on August 22 – five days before classes began – and have spent the past week and some change playing on the road.
On Sunday, the teams will finally have the opportunity to show off for the home crowd. AC’s teams will host a doubleheader against Mountain View College; both the Lady ‘Runners and ‘Runners opened the season with wins over the Lions.
The Lady Roadrunners scored 11 goals in their first two games, with Jade Dewbre accounting for four of those. In the 5-0 win in the opener, Dewbre and Baily Bowers each scored twice while getting another goal from Bety Hernandez. In the road game at Blinn College, AC’s 6-1 win featured two more goals from Dewbre, two from Jerissa Grimes and a goal each from Eva Phillips and Olivia Urrutia.
Head coach Freddy Drago said the key to the women’s success has been an immediate sense of unity despite missing key players early, and he credited sophomores such as Dewbre, Grimes, Urrutia and Skylar Roberson for helping get the new faces on-board quicker.
“The women look like a team already,” Drago said. “Losing some numbers before we even got into camp really forced them to become a team and learn to play together quicker than they would have otherwise. They were put into a tough situation, and they’ve responded very well. Skylar has played a big role helping the younger players understand what we’re trying to do.”
Drago added that the Lady Roadrunners also are playing with a short roster for now, meaning all players are getting more minutes
“Those first few games, we’ve been playing with just two subs, and fatigue is a factor,” Drago said. “We played at Richland the day after the Blinn game and lost 2-0, and the second goal came with less than a minute to play. It was hot, and the girls were just tired.
“One of our international players came into camp yesterday, and we’ve got some others coming off illness or injury who are joining us soon. Getting those numbers back will help us tremendously.”
On the men’s side, the Roadrunners opened with a 4-1 win over Mountain View, getting two goals from Dadwin Hernandez and one each from Bryan Nunez and Josue Salazar. The team dropped a frustrating 2-1 loss at Blinn, and the very next day fell 9-1 at Richland in a game Drago said “just got away from us.” Drago said it’s just a matter of melding all the new faces with returning ones and understanding how the scoring can come from anywhere – and not just in the box.
“It’s like the guys want to get inside the box and get the perfect shot, and it’s never going to be like that just because you’re in scoring position,” Drago said. “We’ve had trouble identifying that. The goal we scored against Blinn was about a 35-yard shot from Josue Salazar, and that was one of the only long-distance shots we took. We can score more like that, but guys
are still learning we don’t have to be right in the box to net goals. Those goals will happen, but we have to learn to score in different ways.”
Fortunately, according to Drago, the entire group possesses more than enough talent to overcome the early struggles.
“What I see is a very talented team, but the guys are still trying to find that thing that will unify them,” Drago said. “We worked hard this week and drilled it into them, just learning to play together and know each other more.”
Sunday’s doubleheader will take place at Jase Magers Field on the Lufkin High School campus. The Lady Roadrunners kick off at 5 p.m., and the Roadrunners follow at 7 p.m.
The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games.
Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.
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