Jeffrey Haines netted two goals and Haden Frazier had one Monday to help the Mexico boys soccer team garner a 3-1 advantage against their North Central Missouri Conference host Moberly early into the second half, but the Bulldogs bite was not firm enough as the Spartans netted three unanswered goals to earn a 4-3 victory.
“At the beginning we were working the ball pretty well and setting the tempo of the game. But near the end we had trouble getting our passes where they needed to go and that hurt us in the long run,” said Mexico soccer coach William Gleeson. “Our passes were not crisp or as accurate as they needed to be. Our passes became more like a 50/50 ball and we lost many of them.”
Frazier, a sophomore midfielder, put up Mexico High School's first tally on the night when he buried his shot from about 15 yards away at 33:25.
Nearly 18 minutes later, Nichols caught up with a long pass, dribbled past the lone Spartan defender between him and Moberly goalkeeper Andrew Imgarten, and shifted his shot toward the opposite side of the goal reaching the southeast corner of the nylons to deliver the Bulldogs a commanding 2-0 lead.
“Jeffrey is one of our better players. He's usually there to pick up those big down-field passes and is quick to score,” added Bulldogs coach Gleeson. “He is a senior that I can always count on.”
But Moberly managed to trim its deficit to 2-1 by halftime when Charez Nichols was named to take a free kick some 25 yards away.The sophomore forward's strike sent the ball barely past the left end of the four-person player wall set up by Mexico and the ball had just enough bend to it to escape the reach of Bulldogs keeper Riley Given for a score with 11:59 minutes left before the half.
For the game, the Spartans edged Mexico in shots placed within the frame by a 15 to 13 margin.
After the break in action on the synthetic turf at Dr. Larry K. Noel Spartan Stadium, Mexico was granted a penalty kick when a player was taken down inside the 18m box and Haines placed his kick cleanly into the net with 36:53 remaining to extend its lead to 3-1.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs (2-3, 1-2 NCMC), the scoring stopped there.
Moberly's Joshua Price made a quick goal about 90-seconds later from 22 yards out, and with 9:17 left Nichols netted his second of three goals when he reached inside the goal box and scored to tie the game.
The go-ahead goal also came off the feet of Nichols when he beat two Bulldog defenders and placed his kick cleanly against the nylons for the final 4-3 result with 5:58 remaining.
Mexico aggressively attacked the Spartans (1-3, 1-2 NCMC) back field in the last two and one-half minutes of play and placed three hard-shot strikes between the posts, but Imgarten read them perfectly, making diving stops on each try to preserve Moberly's win.
Tuesday evening Mexico plays host to Kirksville.
The Bulldogs soccer team happens to return to Moberly this weekend as they participate in a four team, round-robin tournament held Sept. 20-21. Games will be played on both the old grass field at the high school and at the stadium. A point system will be used to determine order of finish among the participants.
Mexico competes at 5 p.m. Friday at the stadium field against Kirksville. On Saturday, the Bulldogs meet Chillicothe on the grass field at 9 a.m. and then face Moberly at the stadium field with a start time of 12 p.m.