Photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
BELTON- The last time UMHB men’s soccer took down Trinity in Belton, Ben Allen played 58 minutes in the 1-0 victory. On Friday night, he was on the field once again, this time as the program’s first-year head coach. And for the first time since 2010, the Crusaders came up victorious against the Tigers, known for their consistency in the NCAA Tournament and status as one of the region’s power programs.
The 3-2 win came about in the most dramatic of ways, anchored by the play of a star forward back stateside after playing for the Philippines U-19 national team, and guided in an unmatched second-half resilience.
How it happened
UMHB went into halftime, trailing 2-0, having allowed a Trinity goal less than 12 minutes into the match. The Tigers added to their advantage in the 41st minute, as Jack Downes found the back of the net, and gave the visitors from San Antonio a boost of momentum heading into halftime.
“We talked about, we have another 45 [minutes],” UMHB assistant coach Javier Zaragoza said postgame on the UMHB broadcast, “if [Trinity] can put two in, why can’t we?”
And that is exactly what the Crusaders proceeded to do. Only they did not score twice. They scored three times in the final 45 minutes, stunning Trinity, as they pulled ahead in the 81st minute and maintained the lead with a forceful defensive presence.
“It’s never over until the last whistle blows,” UMHB forward Francisco Maldonado said postgame on the UMHB broadcast. “We’re happy to come out with the win.”
Maldonado had one of those three goals, the game-tying goal in fact, in the 81st minute on a free kick. The field was silent for a matter of seconds as the freshman approached the ball, resting in the top right corner of the box. His foot connected and drove the ball straight into the top left corner of the goal, as Allen and the Cru leapt on the sidelines in excitement.
“Before practice I come out at least 20 minutes before and work on [those shots],” Maldonado said on the broadcast. “That’s my favorite spot [to shoot from].”
Less than a minute later, Ethan Dacaret, in his season debut after playing overseas for the last several weeks, fired his second goal of the match…and this one proved to be the game-winner. The roar from the crowd was enormous, and for the final nine minutes, the Crusader defense did not allow Trinity an open look.
Dacaret’s play was impressive, as he jump-started the offensive attack with his first goal, in the 67th minute.
“It was great to have Ethan back,” Allen said. “He is a big time player and stepped up in a big game.”
UMHB played with only 10 men for the final 20 minutes of the contest, after Ethan Buchanan was given a red card in the 80th minute (he had already picked up a yellow card in the 67th minute). And still, the Cru scored twice with one less player than the opposition, rallying to victory despite battling cramps and fatigue down the stretch.
“I’m proud of our players and leaders for overcoming a 2-0 deficit at half, and also down a man,” Allen noted.
Though UMHB found the back of the net one more time than the Tigers, Trinity had more shots, with 15, compared to the Cru’s eight. UMHB was limited to just one shot in the first-half.
UMHB goalkeeper Dalton Lloyd had a tough start, allowing the two first-half goals, but he was critical in the comeback, and tallied eight saves in the contest. Dacaret and Patrick Roach each had a team-best three shots.
UMHB looks ahead to a match at Southwestern at 7 p.m. on Sunday night, before ASC play begins at LeTourneau on Sept. 29.