The Bryan boys soccer team doesn’t formally practice shots from several yards outside of the penalty box. Why would you when improbable goals like that are more about feel and opportunity than repetition, head coach Carlos Luna said.
But on Tuesday the Vikings ripped a quartet of long drives into the back of the net in a 6-2 win over Temple in District 12-6A play at Merrill Green Stadium.
“It’s funny because it’s one of those things where they’re never sure if it’s going to go in,” Luna said. “If they don’t feel it in themselves, they don’t take it, and that’s usually what they tell me. But after the game, they said, ‘I knew it was going to go in, because I felt that.’ If they feel it, they feel it. That’s great.”
Bryan (10-0, 1-0) found its offensive confidence despite playing in unfamiliar territory. Temple (4-4, 0-1) netted the first goal of the game in the 14th minute, and the Vikings found themselves behind for just the second time this season. Including Tuesday’s game, Bryan has allowed just three goals in 10 games.
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“[Temple has] a great team, so I told them if we get scored on, you keep playing,” Luna said. “It’s going to happen. We’re going to get scored on, and they did what I asked them, to keep on playing.”
Temple striker Eric Ortiz put one past Bryan goalkeeper John Uribe after a turnover deep in Bryan’s half of the field, but the Vikings countered just four minutes later. Winger Kelvin Zelaya wiggled his way out of a double team near the sideline and hit a screaming shot in stride from 30 yards into the upper corner of the net to tie the match 1-1.
The Wildcats kept their offensive pressure and were rewarded when two chances led to a corner kick with 13 minutes left in the first half. Mateo Lopez’s cross bounced among the traffic at the goal mouth and trickled into the net due to the chaos.
Two more open shooting lanes allowed the Vikings to take a 4-2 lead into the break. In the 36th minute, Bryan midfielder Yexon Diaz recovered a loose ball and hit a low shot into the bottom right corner of the net from just outside the penalty box. Three minutes later, Isidro Muños and Diaz worked combination passes along the left sideline, freeing Muños for a 20-yard shot into the far corner of the net.
“Sometimes it just comes out as you’re playing it,” Muños said. “It’s just in the moment and the game just plays its way around and whenever you have the shot, just take it. Might as well.”
Muños fireworks weren’t done for the night. In the 52nd minute, Muños took a pass from Zelaya streaking down the middle and with one touch hit a knuckling 25-yard shot into the top middle of the net directly through the goalkeeper’s arms.
“I was actually surprised, because we saw some film of them and we saw they were pressing,” Muños said. “In this case, it didn’t happen, and I was happy for it.”
Substitute Skrivanek Flores got in on the action late in the game, scoring on a pass from Diaz.
Diaz picked up his second goal of the game with seven minutes to play on a botched defensive effort on a long ball sent in by Flores. The failed clearance attempt fell to Diaz in the left side of the penalty area, and he easily tapped it into the empty net.
The Vikings outshot Temple 18-14, with 10 of the Vikings shots on frame. Uribe made three stops on Temple’s five shots on goal, keeping pace with his season goal of letting in fewer than 12 goals in the season, his personal best.
Close games often cause coaches to feel a bit nervous. For Luna, the nerves come with Bryan maintaining the level of perfection his team has played at so far this season.
“I don’t like saying we’re undefeated, because [a loss] can happen anytime,” Luna said. “It’s a scary thing knowing that you have a great defense and you have a great keeper. It’s scary, man, [but] I don’t mind it.”