By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers
Two first-half goals by Regis proved to be the difference Friday, and the Rangers held on for a 2-1 non-conference victory over Eastern New Mexico in men’s soccer at the ENMU pitch.
Both teams battled sustained winds of 30 mph during the match, with gusts up to 50 mph.
ENMU coach Carlos Elizondo said the Greyhounds were the own worst enemies at times.
“We made some critical mistakes in the back and we paid for them,” Elizondo said. “They (Hounds) knew the game plan, they knew what they needed to do and when you make those kind of mistakes, you have to put it behind you.”
One of the mistakes he referred to was an ENMU foul in the penalty box in the eighth minute, resulting in a Regis penalty kicke. Junior forward Mike Smith capitalized and gave the Rangers an early 1-0 lead.
That score held until the final minute of the first half, when Regis junior forward Ruben Martinez put his head onto a Jordan Finley throw-in, and beat ENMU junior goalkeeper Leif Craddock to make it 2-0 at the half.
“We knew the guy was going to throw it long, so we should have marked up a little better,” Craddock said. “I should have come out, maybe got the ball on the cross, but instead the guy wasn’t marked up and I didn’t come out so they got the goal.”
With the wind still creating havoc in the second half, the Hounds (3-9-1) finally got on the board in the 81st minute thanks to a Regis foul in the penalty box. Freshman midfielder Ryan McClanahan converte the penalty kick, beating Regis Keeper Trevor Steege to the left post.
The Rangers (3-8-2) then survived the final 10 minutes to nail down the win.
“We pushed some numbers forward, and we had some opportunities,” Elizondo said. “We had an opportunity in the first half too, and should have put those away.
“We’re trying to put ourselves in a position to do well in our conference tournament, and that is our No. 1 priority right now.”