Neither side controlled the pace of the game or possession of the ball in the first half as both squads attempted to assert themselves.
The scoring chances came early and often in the contest. The first prospect came in the third minute as Douglas’ Jaden Moustacchio got behind the Spanish Springs defense for a try. With just Cougars’ goalkeeper Omar Trujillo standing in the way, Moustacchio lined up a shot that glanced off the left goal post and out of bounds.
Spanish Springs got the next crack at a goal, but unlike the visitors, the Cougars cashed in on their opportunity.
After a ball was sent on net, players from both squads kicked the ball around as Tigers’ goalkeeper Johnathan Gomez tried to grab the ball out of midair. Unfortunately for Douglas, Spanish Springs’ Rodolfo Lopez Rojas put his head on the ball just before Gomez could reach it, putting it into the back of the net at the 25th minute for a 1-0 Cougar edge.
Refusing to back off an attack, Douglas finally broke through. In the 35th minute, Douglas junior forward Edgar Hernandez snuck behind the Cougars for a breakaway goal to knot the game at 1-1.
The Tigers stayed on the offensive, almost netting another goal less than two minutes later, but Trujillo again stepped up to block the shot. Spanish Springs coach Rob Moreland said he was thankful for Trujillo’s performance in net for the Cougars.
“We gave them a lot of shots, but Omar’s incredible,” Moreland said. “He’s only a junior too, so we have him two more years. And he’s getting fitter, which is nice. He’s been working on coming out of the net and challenging because he held his line too much last year. He needed to be more of a demanding, commanding goalkeeper and play big for intimidation. It’s great to see that in the first game.” Feeling the need to pick up its pace, Spanish Springs put its own pressure on the opposing netminder. Following a number of close calls, the Cougars managed to push a ball across the goal line in the 38th minute as senior Julio Soto went one-on-one with Gomez before side stepping the Douglas goalie for an easy chip in for a 2-1 Spanish Springs advantage.
While the first half was a back-and-forth affair, the Purple and Silver controlled much of the second, keeping the ball deep in Douglas territory.
Spanish Springs booted a number of empty net opportunities and had a goal waved off due to being offsides, but the mistakes did not hurt the Cougars as the Tiger offense could do little to muster any momentum.
With the hosts still holding a 2-1 lead, Spanish Springs put the game away when junior Edwin Medina put a ball into the left corner of the net in the 62nd minute, pushing the score to 3-1 and sealing the victory.
Spanish Springs (1-0) will take the pitch again on Sept. 5 when it travels to play Wooster. The game is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m.
Despite the victory, Moreland said there is still a lot to work on for the Cougars.
“We need to work on the team concept so we’re not giving the other teams opportunities like we did today,” Moreland said. “I don’t think Douglas had anything they created. We gave them the opportunities by screwing up. So if we can eliminate those things, I think we’ll be fine. We’re good. We’re going to have a lot of chances on offense. I’m still missing two guys that are coming out so we’re going to be scary once we get going. It’s just hard getting the team work going, but that takes a while.”