Head coach Manny Tovar and his Truman Patriots were not pleased with the way the season started.
It began with a 1-0 loss to Grain Valley, in which Truman had 24 shots put was unable to put any of them in the back of the net.
Thursday’s rematch against the Eagles was a little different. The Patriots (6-1) put their foot on the gas early, scoring three goals in the first half and held on for a 4-2 victory and Moody Murry Memorial Field.
Truman junior midfielder Andre Guzman admitted that the season opening loss was a big motivation factor for Truman to start fast. In fact, Truman scored three out of four shots on goal.
“We were hungry,” Guzman said. “That loss definitely hurt us. We came back and took that loss personally and tried to finish as many shots as we could.”
Tovar pointed out that his team has looked more dynamic up top.
“We have a lot of guys from the midfield moving up and scoring,” Tovar said. “We are causing some mismatches that we’re able to exploit. We’ve been working on a lot of offensive stuff in practice the last two weeks. We did that because of the first time we played them. I guess we have to start focusing on defense now.”
During Truman’s six-game winning streak, the team has averaged 3.6 goals per game. A lot of that has to do with the Patriots having a balanced attack. In Wednesday’s 3-0 win against Liberty North, three different players scored a goal. Against Grain Valley, four players scored.
“We have 10, 11 people who can score at any time,” Tovar said. “We don’t have anyone who is our leading goal scorer. We have a lot of people with a few goals and people you don’t expect are scoring.”
Added Guzman: “Having that many guys who can score just makes it that much harder for opponents to defend us.”
It started with Korby Ring, who received a long centering pass from Raul Romero and was able to tap one in deep in Grain Valley’s penalty box for the first score in the 26th minute.
With 10:56 left in the half, Andre Guzman booted one in from the left wing to make 2-0 off a Romero assist.
“We were being patient waiting for that gap,” Guzman said. “I saw that we had a gap open on the right side, so I came from the left and yelled at Raul to get me the ball and he fit one through and it was an easy tap in.”
A few moments later, Juan Gonzalez drilled a shot toward the right side of the Grain Valley goal, but goalkeeper Colton Henry made a diving stop. However, Julian Contreras was there to put in the rebounds to give the Patriots a cushion.
Grain Valley responded in the 38th minute when Logan Welle found the back of the net off an assist from Drake Bray to make it 3-1 going into halftime.
After being outshot 7-3 in the first half, Grain Valley rebounded with a stronger second half which saw the Eagles have a much better time possessing the ball. The Eagles held a 7-4 advantage in shots in the final 40 minutes.
However, Truman still managed to go up 4-1 early in the second when Austin Montoya put in a close-range shot.
“I saw Korby flick it over, so I just followed through with my run and flicked it past the keeper,” Montoya said.
Welle added a second goal in the 67th minute for the Eagles but it was too little, too late.
“We made mistakes and they converted on them,” Grain Valley coach Tyler Nichol said. “All three goals in the first half, were errors on our part. We were missing two of our center backs due to injuries and suspensions, so it was tough.
“There’s really no excuses, though. We didn’t play well tonight. They were the better team tonight.”