OTTAWA — In the first soccer match between Ottawa and La Salle-Peru as members of the Interstate Eight Conference, and with each club looking to post its initial league victory, it was the Pirates who came out on top here at King Field on a hot and humid Tuesday night.
Ottawa (5-2, 1-1) netted the first two goals of the contest midway through the first half, held a 3-1 lead at the half, and then added three more tallies the rest of the way to come away with a 6-1 victory over La Salle-Peru (0-5-1, 0-3).
The Pirates' Alonso Navarro got things going with 21 minutes, 40 seconds left in the opening half when he scored following a corner kick by Jesus Martinez and headed pass from Julio Mendez. Then, just over a minute and a half later, Mateo Mendez scored after corralling a rebound off a long shot by Gio Resendez that L-P keeper Ian Meagher made a nice stop on.
"Those two we got right away seemed to take the wind out of their sails a little bit," said Ottawa coach Jeff Davis, his club finishing with a 25-9 overall shot advantage, including 15-6 on target attempts. "We did a great job of capitalizing on our shots tonight. When we had the opportunities to shoot we did and good things happened.
"We were able to find the back of the net on a couple set pieces, off a corner kick, off a re-kick in the first half. The kids did a nice job of setting each other up. Then in the second half we scored a couple from far out. Overall it was just nice to see us finish today."
The home team made it 3-0 at the 13-minute, 49-second mark after Julio Mendez sent a perfect 18-yard strike past Meagher (five saves) into the net off a pass served forward by Resendez. Meagher was injured on the play and replaced by Jorge Martinez (four saves), but returned to play the entire second half.
The Cavaliers scored their lone goal of the match with just over five minutes to go before halftime. Jesus Mandujano settled the ball, and when the Ottawa defense backed off blasted a 40-yard shot past keeper Ethan Fowler (three saves).
"We have a lot of regular starters injured right now, but the guys taking their spots or coming in off the bench have been playing very strong," said La Salle-Peru coach David Spudic. "Guys are filling in where needed without hesitations.
"We've been doing a lot of work in practice on our corners and crosses, which I saw improvement today. We have also been trying to improve on passing, moving and talking more, as well as just playing more aggressively, but being smart about it.
"There really isn't a lot of things, other that the result, that I'm unhappy with. We just needed to find more consistency. This group has come a long way already this season, and we are a super young team, so now it's just working on improvement every time we step on the field."
The second half was a defensive struggle until Ottawa's Jacob Krueger scored a pair of goals — the first a 25-yard blast at 26:14 off an assist by Mateo Mendez, and the other three minutes later from 30 yards away after picking off an errant L-P throw-in.
Ottawa closed out the match scoring on Lance Malmassari's rebound goal with just over four minutes to play, while Zach Nelson played the latter half in net for the Pirates and made two stops.
“(L-P's) keepers did a really good job and made a number of really good saves coming out to cut down angles. The key was that we kept the pressure on them and kept them active the whole match,” said Davis.
“It was a great performance by our guys, especially in the first half. We were flying to every ball, making good decisions, good passes, getting the first touch. I felt we set the tone and really controlled things the entire match.”