Eastern New Mexico University sophomore midfielder Ryan Atkinson, left, defends against Texas-Permian Basin junior Jose Soto during the second half of Friday’s men’s soccer match at the ENMU pitch. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — Stepping outside the Southwest Soccer Conference was apparently what the doctor ordered for the Eastern New Mexico University men’s squad.
The Greyhounds, who came in having lost each of their previous four matches by a goal, played perhaps as solid a game as they have this season on Friday in dispatching NCAA Division III Texas-Permian Basin 3-0 at the ENMU soccer pitch.
Junior forward Jonathan Holman had a goal and two assists and junior forward-midfielder Keith Vargas added a goal and an assist in a much-needed win for ENMU (3-8-1).
“We’ve had a lot of things going on this season, but I think we’re focused now,” Holman said. “I think this win will help us.
“This is a start. Everyone played good today, and it was a nice win.”
Neither team managed a shot on goal in the first half until, with just over 10 minutes left, the Hounds set up the first score with some nifty ball movement. Holman crossed the ball to Vargas on the right side of the box and he slammed it into the upper left corner for a 1-0 halftime lead.
“It was like there were about 10 passes in a row before we got that shot,” ENMU coach Carlos Elizondo said. “It was nice to watch.
“We’ve been working on our passing for a long time, and it’s finally starting to pay off.”
Vargas returned the favor with about 10 minutes left, setting up Holman on a give-and-go from about 10 yards out on the left side. Freshman forward Jared Morris finished the scoring four minutes later, taking a pass from Holman and banging the ball in off two Falcons players.
Falcons goalkeeper Gage Peterson had a chance to make the save, but juggled the ball and it rolled behind him into the net.
“We played well,” Elizondo said. “I’m happy with the way the team played. We have a couple of injuries, but hopefully we’ll be all right in the next couple of weeks.”
ENMU lost reserve defender Joey Ongaga in the second half to an ankle injury, and freshman defender Brian Swan was also hobbling with a foot problem. Both will probably miss Sunday’s 4 p.m. non-league home matchup with College of the Southwest, Elizondo said.
The Falcons (5-2-3) came in playing pretty well.
“They’re not bad,” Elizondo said. “They have some dangerous players, but the lacked a little bit of organization and that led to some things opening up for us.”
UT-Permian Basin 0 0 — 0
ENMU 1 2 — 3
ENM — Keith Vargas (Jonathan Holman), 34:39
ENM — Holman (Vargas), 80:02
ENM — Jared Morris (Holman), 84:16
Shots on goal — UT-Permian Basin 4, Eastern New Mexico 5. Corner kicks — UT-Permian Basin 6, Eastern New Mexico 6. Saves — UT-Permian Basin 2 (Gage Peterson 1, team 1), Eastern New Mexico 4 (Leif Craddock 2, team 2). Fouls — UT-Permian Basin 6, Eastern New Mexico 6. Red cards — UT-Permian Basin 1 (Raul Franco, ejected), Eastern New Mexico none. Yellow cards — UT-Permian Basin none, Eastern New Mexico 2 (Rhen Salas, Donnell Jackson). Records — UT-Permian Basin 5-2-3, Eastern New Mexico 3-8-1. A — 85.