Late penalty kick lifts No. 23 West Texas A&M past Eagles 1-0

OC defender Sergio Flores looks for teammates downfield during the Eagles' 1-0 loss to West Texas A&M on Thursday night.
OC defender Sergio Flores looks for teammates downfield during the Eagles' 1-0 loss to West Texas A&M on Thursday night.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 10, 2013) – West Texas A&M’s Vitor Cardoso scored on a penalty kick in the 84th minute, lifting the 23rd-ranked Buffaloes to a 1-0 win over a gritty Oklahoma Christian side on Thursday night.

West Texas A&M (8-2), one of the top teams in Division II’s South Central Region, outshot OC (2-6-1) by a 23-10 count. But time and again the Eagles’ back line, led by defenders Matt McLain and Sergio Flores, stymied the WTAMU attack.

OC freshman goalkeeper Evan Helker played the best game of his young college career, recording nine saves and cutting off at least a half-dozen crosses that could have become scoring opportunities for the Buffaloes.

“He was huge, coming and taking as many balls as he did out of the air and then a few of the saves he made were top-notch,” OC men’s soccer coach David Scott said. “He played great tonight. It was great for a freshman to come into a game like this and perform this well.”

WTAMU kept up pressure throughout the game and the Eagles committed a costly foul in the penalty box during a late offensive sequence by the Buffaloes. Cardoso buried the penalty kick to put WTAMU ahead.

“The last couple of days, we just worked on the amount of effort that we’re giving and just trying to stay as compact as possible and the work rate it was going to take for that to happen,” Scott said. “We had two really good days of training … and they came and really played well tonight.

“We’ve kind of had a rough stretch these last few games (with) a lot of injuries that we’ve kind of tried to play through. We’re just trying to convince them that this is the team that we can be if we do things the right way and the effort is there.”

Most of OC’s shots came from long range as the Eagles found it tough to penetrate WTAMU’s defensive back line. WTAMU goalkeeper Garrett Cooper made one save, that on a second-half shot by Troy Tippeconnic.

OC now is finished with nonconference play this season. The Eagles will resume Heartland Conference play on Monday when they visit Dallas Baptist (Texas).

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