After smashing Lincoln Land midweek and continuing their hot streak, the men’s soccer Trailblazers were back in action at Tim Rooney Stadium on Saturday, September 21, hosting the Hawks of Heartland Community College. Heartland came to Godfrey boasting an impressive 4-1-1 record, but hadn’t won their last two games prior to Saturday’s encounter, losing to Iowa Lakes 5-1 and drawing with John Wood 0-0 during the week.
To borrow an often used soccer term, the opening of the first half was quite cagey. Both teams feeling the other out, trying to figure out how to make the first move. As has been the case in several games this season, team captain Reshaun Welkes provided the bit of quality that was needed to make the breakthrough, latching onto a Tony Bodul pass through the Heartland defense, and arrowing a shot past the goalkeeper’s outstretched left arm.
In rebuttal, Heartland pressed higher, and asked questions of the Lewis and Clark defense. Their chances mostly came through the air, as they had multiple headed attempts but all flew safely over LC goalkeeper Christian Deans’ goal. The Trailblazers likely were praying the halftime whistle would come, to put an end to the Hawks’ attack.
It was a cooler, breezy, occasionally drizzly Saturday for soccer at Tim Rooney Stadium. One can notice the difference in the pace of the game when players aren’t feeling the effects of heat and humidity. Even masterfully trained athletes can only expend so much energy when it’s 90 degrees out with 70% humidity.
Lewis and Clark’s second goal of the afternoon was the end result of a marvelous counter, where Reshaun Welkes darted around the Heartland defensive line and received an outlet pass, which he directed into the path of an onrushing Luke Mellon who only had to tap it in to net the second goal. LC’s two-goal lead was quite short lived, as Heartland forward Saul Amaya scored and pulled a goal back less than a minute later.
The rain really began to pour in the second half, and the slick pitch forced mistakes out of both teams. With players sliding all over, the game became a bit more hectic and sloppy, which led to a third goal for Lewis and Clark. The quick feet of captain Reshaun Welkes factored yet again, and the defense couldn’t find footing as he passed them by. Much like the second LC goal, Welkes squared a pass across goal to a teammate in stride, and found fellow Canadian Baden Beckles who confidently tucked the ball into the net.
Rain affects all aspects of the game of soccer, including the referees. Some questionable decisions were made by the referee of this game, including a foul that should have been a Heartland penalty kick that was inexplicably given as a free kick instead.
One call the referee did get right ultimately put the game out of reach for the visitors, as Reshaun Welkes was fouled rushing in on goal, and the ref pointed to the penalty spot. Welkes converted, with a cool-as-you-like finish that wrong footed Heartland goalkeeper Elias Zamora. The Hawks pressed on despite the scoreline, but the Trailblazer defense was up to the task, highlighted by freshman Isaac Frederick’s tenacity all over the field late on. Final score: Lewis and Clark 4-1 Heartland CC.
The Trailblazer men have now won six straight contests, and are one of the hottest teams in NJCAA soccer anywhere right now. A quick turnaround sees them back in action at Tim Rooney Stadium in two days time, hosting Illinois Central College on September 23. For more information about men’s soccer or all Lewis and Clark Athletics, visit LC.edu/athletics.