The Austin Aztex started their season strong with a 4-0 victory over the Texas Dutch Lions Saturday at WoodForest Stadium. Tony Rocha found the net early in the game when he buried a free kick into the upper left corner past Dutch Lions goalie Kurt Lange in the 6th minute. Beto Papandrea used his body to muscle in a corner kick in the 55th minute to add to the Aztex lead. Chuy Cortes scored the third goal in the 66th minute when he sent in a cross that was mishandled by the Texas Dutch Lions goalkeeper. Kekuta Manneh, the latest addition to the Aztex, sealed the victory in the 81st minute on a creative goal in which he juked several defenders and the goalkeeper to slot the ball home. The Aztex defense, led by Ross Kelly, stifled any attack from the opposing team and did not allow a shot on goal until the 84th minute.
See below for the full recap.
Austin Aztex: Texas Dutch Lions:
GK: Josh Mikulewicz GK: Kurt Lange
LB: Josh Alcala LB: Gio Andrade
CB: Beto Papandrea CB: Austin Brown
CB: Ross Kelly CB: Gavin Bruce
RB: Matt Boultt RB: Matthew McLaughlin
LM: Tony Rocha CM: Terri Schonk
MF: James Martin CM: Noah Quintana
MF: William Morse AM: Billy O’Dwyer
CM: Jesus ‘Chuy’ Cortes RW: Dionicio Corona Jr.
RM: Zack Pope CA: Christopher Martinez
F: Callum Riley LW: Raffi Gregorian
GK: Devin Cook GK: Blake Lander
D: Jordan Wright A: Johannus Cuarezma
D: James Elder A: Bryan Mann
D: Miguel Zapata M: Christian Mejia
M: Kendall Rockers A: Oliver Ortiz
M: Jacob Powell CM: Roberto Vazquez
M: Kekuta Manneh D: Ryan Spalding
Boultt (80′), Rockers (87’) Andrade (34’)
The Austin Aztex started the season on the right note Saturday when they found the net four times while holding the Texas Dutch Lions scoreless. It was an impressive first-game performance for the Aztex, who revealed a knack for maintaining possession and frequent aggressive attacks.
The Aztex started the scoring in the sixth minute when Callum Riley was taken down in the penalty area. The referee opted to give the Aztex a free kick, and Tony Rocha ripped his shot past the goalkeeper for the first goal of the season.
The Aztex did not let off of the accelerator, as Zack Pope led a relentless attack on the right flank. He led an attack that resulted with a shot hitting the crossbar in the 10th minute. Six minutes later, Pope received a pass that threaded through the defense, but was unable to push the ball in.
Rocha proved that the Aztex have quite the weapon on free kicks. In the 26th minute, he drove a 30-yard shot past the goalkeeper’s reach. However, the shot ricocheted off of the crossbar and the Aztex could not slot in the rebound.
The Aztex attack persisted, while another telling part of the game was the solid work of Ross Kelly and Beto Papandrea on defense. The two central defenders were able to stop and contain the Texas Dutch Lions attack throughout the entire first half.
”The team worked really hard and never gave the Texas Dutch Lions the opportunity to build their attacks,” said Aztex head coach Paul Dalglish. “Defensively, it was an excellent start, but I think we could have been more clinical in the final third. Overall, all things considered for our first game it was a fantastic performance from the players.”
The second half started with aggressive attacking on both sides. The Aztex capitalized first in the 55th minute when Papandrea forced in a corner kick from James Martin for the second Aztex goal. Cortes added to the score sheet when his cross slipped past the keeper in the 66th minute.
“We’re lucky because we’ve got Tony’s left foot for delivery on free kicks and James deliveries were fantastic on corners,” said Dalglish. “Two goals from set plays is very pleasing. Credit to James and Tony for their deliveries.”
Kekuta Manneh, the latest addition to the team, sealed the victory in the 81st minute with the fourth goal. Manneh, a halftime substitution, stole the ball from the Texas Dutch Lions defense, juked three defenders and the goalie while on his path to goal.
“We all have to remember that Manneh is 17 and that he will be at Lake Travis High School on Monday morning,” Dalglish said. “We don’t want to get too carried away because he is young, but the goal he scored was incredible. He is a special talent and the scary thing is he is going to get even better playing in the PDL.”
The Aztex were able to use all seven of their substitutes, giving everyone on the team the opportunity to get into the game. Dalglish said the substitution strategy will have to change on a game-by-game basis.
“Today, because of the performance, the players that started gave us the luxury to get all of our substitutes into the game,” Dalglish said.
Next up for the Aztex is a road trip through west Texas. The Aztex will face the West Texas Sockers in Midland on May 11 and then travel to El Paso to face the Patriots on May 12. After their road trip, the Aztex will have a week to prepare for their home opener against the El Paso Patriots at House Park on May 19.