Like a snake in the grass, Truman junior defender Chris Alessio struck his prey from out of nowhere.
During Tuesday’s boys soccer match with Noland Road rival William Chrisman, Alessio snuck through some defenders and knocked in a rebound that was ping-ponging between a handful of players.
That goal prompted a comical celebration from the junior as he jump-started Truman’s 2-0 win at Independence All-School Stadium.
After scoring the goal in the 29th minute, Alessio flopped on his stomach, curved his upper body and started crawling forward for a celebration he calls “The Viper.”
“We mess around after practice where do this ‘Viper’ celebration,” Alessio said. “My friend (Jose Calderon) started it.”
The players on the Patriots’ bench erupted in laughter as they enjoyed a game in which they dominated possession a majority of the time.
Truman coach Manny Tovar chuckled when he recalled Alessio mimicking a viper.
“I think someone pushed him down or something and then I turned around and said, ‘What’s he doing on the ground?’ It was fun for them to kind of have that,” he said.
The Patriots (2-3) held a 10-2 advantage in shots on goal as their press proved to be poisonous for an unsuspecting Bears squad. It allowed Truman to keep possession throughout and limit Chrisman’s chances at the goal.
“We knew Truman was going to come out and press hard,” Chrisman coach John Straub said. “To start the game, we fumbled our possession. For the first 10 minutes we struggled to get the ball out of our half due to how well Truman was pressing.”
It was something Tovar figured would work against the Bears.
“It was based on our scouting report.” he said. “We did a good job to force turnovers. Our midfielders and forward did a great job pressing when we needed to.”
Truman’s other goal came in the 42nd minute when senior forward Issac Botello leaped for a high-arcing pass from Calderon, a senior midfielder, and elevated a header over Chrisman goalkeeper Javier Ortiz-Merino for the final tally.
“That was my third goal of the season,” Botello said. “I just want to keep scoring for my team.”
It was a big win for a young Truman team that is featuring a much different lineup than it had last season.
“We don’t really have a true leader out there,” Tovar said. “That’s the biggest thing we lack. It’s not just one person or two people, it takes everyone to be a good leader. We are trying to figure that out and trying to get on the same page.”
For Chrisman (2-2), it didn’t start creating chances until the final 20 minutes of the game. Truman goalkeeper Fransico Bonilla made two crucial saves late and an open shot from Chrisman senior Tanner Jolley bounced off the left post in the 74th minute.
While the Bears couldn’t score, Ortiz-Merino helped keep them in it with seven saves, with about five of them requiring him to dive or leap to punch the ball away.
“He had an incredible game,” Straub said of Ortiz-Merino said. “We were happy to see that.”