HARROD – The Allen East boys soccer program has entered uncharted waters.
After Allen East’s 2-0 victory over visiting Ada Monday night at Bill Goodwin Field, the Mustangs will be vying for its first-ever Northwest Conference title Thursday when they host Bluffton, who also is 4-0 in conference play. Thursday’s game is set for 5 p.m.
Against Ada, Allen East got up 2-0 in the first half and then its defensive play secured the win in the second half.
With the victory, Allen East improves to 4-0 in the NWC and 6-6-1 overall. Ada slips to 3-2 in conference play and 8-6-1 overall.
For Allen East boys head coach Lamar Houston – who was the Allen East girls head coach for eight seasons – it’s all about taking care of business, one game at a time.
“It’s for all the marbles,” Houston said about Thursday’s matchup with Bluffton. “It’s the first time we’ve been in this situation, where we have a chance to win it all. It’s pretty awesome. I’m so happy that these boys have an opportunity. I told them, if we win this game (Ada), we’ll have the opportunity to meet Bluffton for a winner takes all. They’re a great team. They’re well-coached. They’re disciplined. So, it’s going to be tough.”
In Monday’s matchup with Ada, Allen East senior Malachi Blackma scored both of his team’s goals. Both goals came in the first half.
Blackma’s first goal came just a little more than eight minutes into the contest. Blackma dribbled the ball off a fast break and shot it past Ada goalkeeper Grant Preston (three saves).
Then with 8:06 left to play in the first half, Blackma received a nicely-thrown inbounds pass from Mason Dotson and headed it past Preston for the goal.
In the second half, Allen East shifted to a different formation in hopes of defending Ada a little better.
In the first half, Ada took five shots on goal. However, Allen East goalkeeper Eneko Iribarren made four saves. For the game, Iribarren knocked down a total of seven shots.
For the game, Ada fired nine shots on goal. Allen East mustered a total of five shots.
“In the first half, we had a lot of break downs, defensively,” Houston said. “Our goalkeeper just made save after save. He was awesome, tonight.
“In the second half, we had a two-goal lead. So, we switched to a 4-4-2, just to cram it in the middle a little bit, so we would not give up any one-on-one type of scoring opportunities. They got some shots from the outside. Luckily, they
weren’t hitting (between) the frames. So, we did what we wanted to do in that second half. And we did what we needed to do in that first half. … It all worked out.”
For Ada, Skylar Williams took three shots on goal. Teammate Jacob Poling took two shots.
Ada took a total of six corner kicks, while Allen East took four.
Houston said his team just missed a few opportunities to break the game open.
“Just one extra pass, a slightly better shot….,” Houston reflected. “We knew that we could still attack in a 4-4-2, because the first part of the season, that was all we were doing, playing a 4-4-2. So, we just had to be a little more disciplined in that formation – to get everybody up, everybody wide and make those runs.”
Houston preached to his squad the importance of coming out strong against Ada.
“I told them that we had to win this one in order to have the opportunity to win the league. They knew it. They were focused to win it; and we got it done,” Houston said.
Added Blackma, “You can never underestimate a team. You can never do that in any sport. You just have to go out and hope you can win. That’s pretty much all you can do. We got the win, so that’s going to keep us moving forward. I’m proud of our team.”