CHEYENNE – There was no late-match magic for the No. 14-ranked Laramie County Community College men’s soccer team Saturday afternoon.
Two days after giving away a lead, rallying to tie the score and winning in overtime, the Golden Eagles came up short during a 3-2 loss to visiting Utah State-Eastern.
LCCC (1-1) led 2-0 after 35 minutes, and 2-1 at halftime.
“We didn’t stick to our game plan,” Eagles coach Vince Gibson said. “We talked about how we got a lead (Thursday) and started defending right away. That happened again. We got the lead and then went on the defensive. I don’t know why we’re doing that.
“I don’t know why we don’t want to keep attacking. Everything we played was a long-ball that made it a 50-50 game instead of having 100% possessions. If you go away from possession it’s a gamble. We gambled and we lost.”
LCCC grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 13th when sophomore defender Imourana Naite drove a pass to classmate Carlos Vargas inside the penalty area. Vargas struck a shot past the outstretched hands of USUE goalkeeper Benjamin Miller who dove to his right to try and make the save.
The Eagles extended their advantage in the 35th when a Daniel Barajas pass left Jared Ramos one-on-one with Miller on the doorstep of the goal near the left upright. Ramos easily finished the chance for a 2-0 lead.
“We were connecting our passes, playing out wide and building out of the back,” sophomore Bryan Vazquez said. “It was almost like we felt like we had the game won. We laid back and then we put our heads down when they scored on us. We should have just kept going at them.
“Our energy was really low compared to how it usually is, and it caught up to us.”
USUE cut the lead to 2-1 in the 40th minute when LCCC sophomore defender Noah Espino-Kennedy was called for a foul inside the penalty box. Thomas Kirkham rifled a left-footed shot into the left side of the goal as Eagles keeper Declan Domyan dove in the opposite direction.
Brandon Bejarano knotted the score 2-2 with a goal in the 64th. David Gaspar put USUE up 3-2 when he ran onto a loose ball in the center of the field and struck a shot to the right side in the 67th.
LCCC pushed players forward and repeatedly pressure the goal over the final 23 minutes, but they couldn’t force overtime.
“We have to keep pushing each other and keep working,” Vargas said. “We can’t let off the gas. It’s mostly mental. When you get up 2-0, you let down because you think you have somebody beat.
“In reality, anybody can come back on you. When you have somebody by the throat like that, you have to finish them.”
USU-EASTERN 3, LCCC 2
Halftime: 2-0 LCCC.
Goals: LCCC, Vargas (Naite), 13. LCCC, Ramos (Barajas), 35. USUE, Kirkham (penalty kick), 40. USUE, Bejarano (Palmer), 64. USUE, Gaspar (unassisted), 67.
Shots: USUE 10, LCCC 17. Shots on goal: USUE 4, LCCC 5. Saves: USUE 3 (Miller); LCCC 1 (Domyan).
Corner kicks: USUE 3, LCCC 13. Offsides: USUE 3, LCCC 4. Fouls: USUE 13, LCCC 1. Yellow cards: LCCC 2 (Gonzalez, 64. Barajas, 75).