By GARY STALLARD
The early struggles were expected. Both rosters contained plenty of talent, but it was going to take time for all of it to come together.
It’s all coming together now.
Angelina College’s soccer teams put together strong performance over the past week: The Roadrunner women strung together three straight wins, while the Roadrunner men pulled out two tough victories in the same span. And both squads battled nationally ranked Tyler teams in a pair of AC losses on Saturday.
“It is coming together,” head coach Freddy Drago said. “The reality is we’re just four or five games into the season, so we still haven’t played a whole lot of ball yet. That cohesiveness is just going to get better and better as the season progresses, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
In the Roadrunner women’s 7-1 win at Jacksonville College on Friday, Daisy de Boer scored two goals and tallied three assists. Bailey Bowers, Jasmin Keller, Fernanda Nieto, Stephany Lopez also scored. In the men’s game that same night, Taurayi Tugwete netted a pair of goals, including the game-winner in overtime. Ulises Mercado also put one between the posts in AC’s 3-2 win.
Those were the scorers, but Drago said the team’s success had more to do with the way the entire roster contributed.
“It’s not just one or two players,” Drago said. “My opinion of the past two weekends has to do with the overall team effort. They’ve come together quite nicely on both teams. My speech to both teams has been those wins were great team wins. Everybody’s learning their roles within their teams, and they’re stepping up to the plate when we call on them.”
Both the women and men will host conference matches on Thursday and Saturday. The Roadrunner women kick off against Paris College at 4 p.m. Thursday, with the men facing the Dragons at 6 p.m. On Saturday, the women take on Northeast Texas Community College at 2 p.m., with the men squaring off against the Eagles at 4 p.m.
Rather than focus on the opponents’ tendencies, Drago and his staff simply want to keep building on what the teams have put together so far.
“There’s always going to be a need for improvement, and what we’re looking at is getting those wins no matter how we have to do it,” Drago said. “Our league is the toughest in the country, so it’s hard to get any real momentum going. We’re playing very tough opponents every single week. If we can pick up two ‘W’s this week, that would really help us heading into the following week.
“The season is long, it’s tough and it’s physical, and you have to grind out every win. We feel we’re ready for it.”
Thursday’s and Saturday’s matches take place at Jase Magers Field in Lufkin.
The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is firstname.lastname@example.org.