It took 50-plus minutes of soccer for Van Horn to figure out the angles.
Van Horn battled through a scoreless first half with Truman, frustrated by the Patriots’ penchant for bringing their goalie off his line to counter the speed of the Falcons’ forwards. It was pretty effective in the first half.
Not so much in the second half.
Van Horn found wide-angled opportunities that led to three goals and secured a 3-1 victory in a battle of Independence rivals Wednesday night at Truman. It was all, Van Horn coach Jesus Rodriguez said, just a matter of adjustment.
“In the second half we talked about diagonal balls,” Rodriguez said. “Those are the ones that are going to penetrate because he’s going to be faster when the ball’s coming at him, but when the ball’s at an angle, he can’t get it. Those first two goals the ball was away from the keeper and we were able to just knock them in.”
Angel DeAvila knocked in the first one, taking an angled pass from forward Edison Rios on a breakaway in the 56th minute. Rios scored the second goal by collecting a long diagonal ball from Diego Coronado and finding the far post in the 70th minute.
“We were frustrated in the first half,” Rios said. “But in the second half we were able to open the game and score.”
Van Horn (17-3) had plenty of chances in the first half while its defense held Truman (5-14) to two shots. But by the end of the period, Truman goalkeeper Francisco Bonilla had yet to give up a goal.
“I did expect (Truman) to come out and be a little more dangerous,” Rodriguez said. “But they drew back. They tried to play on their counter-attack and we have experienced guys and they know how to handle those situations.”
Rios got another assist on Van Horn’s final goal with a perfect cross to his brother Julio Rios for a header in the 78th minute.
Johnny Contreras scored for Truman in the final minute, denying Van Horn goalie Cooper Sumpter a shutout. The Patriots almost equalized in the 65th minute on a hard blast from Jose Calderon that Sumpter smothered.
This wasn’t conference game for Van Horn, nor did the Falcons face a team they could see in the upcoming postseason. But Rodriguez considered it an important victory, and the Falcons celebrated accordingly afterward.
“It was an important game for us,” Edison Rios said. “We’d already beat William Chrisman, so this was the last game to decide who was the best in Independence.”