BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Finally seeing the pitch after lightning forced the Labor Day Classic game from Friday night to Saturday morning, tournament host Southern Birmingham notched a trio of goals to spoil the season opener for the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen 3-0.
The Panthers set the tone for the chippy match early with a red card awarded to Luke Hambledon in just the third minute of play which put Cal Lutheran on the attack early. Senior Alon Arnaldes got things going in the fourth minute with the first shot of the game, but missed just left of the post. BSC countered with three shots of their own, but also came up fruitless.
Twenty minutes went on before building up to one of Cal Lutheran's top scoring opportunities when freshman Adrian Graciano found space in the box in the 29th minute and took a point-blank shot at goal, but straight to the keeper who punched the ball back into play at the feet of Graciano before being kicked out of bounds by a BSC defender.
The Panthers countered two minutes later with a goal off a corner taken by Brett Feringa. Though the initial header by Ryan Hepp was blocked by a Kingsmen defender, a flurry in the box gave Brandon Robinson just enough time to get a shot off past the diving keeper to the back-left post.
Looking to equalize before heading into halftime, keeper Antonio Welch came up with a big save for the Kingsmen in the 43rd minute, jamming a shot by Corby Groard against the left post to keep the game within one strike. Welch quickly passed the ball off to Graciano who made one last attempt in the first period for Cal Lutheran with a long shot up the middle that was on line but a few feet too high.
Down by one entering the second half, Cade Leatherman entered in as goalkeeper for the Kingsmen and his offense pressured early with four shots just three minutes into the fresh period. Graciano started the surge with a ball that nailed the crossbar. Nick Bryant and Jose Olea followed with two blocked kicks, and finally a shot from Evan Zamora sailed high.
However, BSC responded with pressure of their own and Christian Hernandez scored for the Panthers in the 69th minute to push the deficit to two. Still looking to put a goal on the board, Igor Lumbrano and Arnaldes quickly saw their chances to cut the lead and took back-to-back shots on goal in the 71st and 72nd minutes, but both found the keeper.
The Panthers finalized their win in the 89th with a fast break by Brother Swagler to Corby Groark who chipped the ball over Weatherman to go up 3-0.
Though the Kingsmen received one last chance with 27 seconds remaining to save themselves from the shutout, Ryan Fraye's header off a corner kick from Aaron Winsick curved wide right and the game was called by the officials.
Rough play continued throughout the contest, however, and BSC was awarded two more yellows within the first 60 minutes of regulation (Sturm, Swagler). Though BSC was called for 15 fouls compared to CLU's four, Rodrigues and Bryant were both also shown yellow cards for the Kingsmen.
The Kingsmen look to put a win on the board tomorrow morning, September 2, in their second game of the Labor Day Classic in Birmingham, Alabama. They kick off at 11 a.m. CDT against the Berry Vikings.
Box Score: BSC 3, CLU 0
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Release by Christy Effendie, Assistant Sports Information Director