BETHANY, Okla. (Sept. 5, 2013) – Domenico DeGrazia couldn’t help himself. As he sprinted away from the goal after scoring yet again, he held up three fingers – one for each goal he’d put in the back of the net at Wes Harmon Field on Thursday night.
DeGrazia’s hat trick – the first by an OC men’s soccer player in two seasons – lifted Oklahoma Christian to a tougher-than-it-looked 5-2 win over archrival Southern Nazarene in the season opener for both teams.
OC (1-0) ended a 10-game losing streak to Southern Nazarene (0-1), a program the Eagles have played more than any other. When the teams didn’t play last season, it marked the first time that had happened since OC began its soccer program in 1986.
The Eagles’ last win over SNU came in 2004, by a 2-0 count when Adam Basic was OC’s coach. Scott took the reins of the Eagles in 2006 and hadn’t ever beaten the Crimson Storm – until Thursday.
“It’s been far too long,” Scott said. “It’s great to come here and get a result. Hopefully we can keep this rolling.”
The five goals were the second-most scored by OC against SNU in the history of the series, trailing only a 6-3 win over the Crimson Storm in 2000. Thursday’s offensive showcase came after a preseason during which the Eagles struggled at times to score.
“Early on, we kind of had some problems sorting out things in the midfield,” Scott said. “We were a little loose in possession with the ball. Once we finally kind of closed things down, then really stressed at halftime playing together as a team, doing things together, not doing as much individually, it really made the difference and kind of got us over the hump in the second half.”
DeGrazia, a junior midfielder from Caracas, Venezuela, put the Eagles ahead 1-0 in the sixth minute, taking a cross from freshman Troy Tippeconnic and scoring from inside the penalty area.
OC rode that lead until the 33:11 mark, when SNU’s Edgar Pineda scored by putting in a rebound after OC goalkeeper Connor Davenport stopped an initial shot by Blake Rodgers.
Just 27 seconds later, the Eagles answered. Ricardo Chinchilla sent a pass to DeGrazia, whose shot from 10 yards out on the right side beat SNU goalkeeper Tyler Wythe and put OC back ahead.
Pineda tied the game again at 2-2 in the 58th minute, blasting a free kick from about 25 yards out past Evan Helker, who replaced Davenport in the goal to start the second half.
Tippeconnic responded by scoring his first collegiate goal on a booming 45-yard free kick in the 66th minute, giving OC the lead for good. Less than two minutes later, Chinchilla scored off his own rebound to make it 4-2.
DeGrazia completed his hat trick in the 76th minute. Streaking down the right side of the field, he took a long pass from Latham Liggett – who was about 15 yards behind the center line – and after a couple of dribbles, beat Wythe with a shot from about 15 yards out.
Trey Boykin recorded OC’s most recent hat trick before Thursday, scoring three goals in a 7-0 win over Sterling (Kan.) to open the 2011 season.
“Domenico had a great game tonight, and then Ricky, we challenged him at halftime to kind of step up and be a little more of a presence in the second half and he raised his level and had a really great game,” Scott said.
SNU outshot the Eagles 20-19, but most of the Crimson Storm’s shots weren’t of as high a quality as those taken by OC. Davenport made three saves while Helker had one. Wythe had three saves for SNU.
OC will be off until Sept. 14, when the Eagles visit Central Christian (Kan.).