Kennedy finishes with a flurry to beat Cypress
LA PALMA – Three minutes doesn’t seem like a significant amount of time in an 80 minute-boys soccer game, but those 180 seconds completely changed Kennedy's Empire League match against visiting Cypress.
Jesus Ibarra, Napoleon Velasquez and Jordan Hunter each scored a goal for the Fighting Irish from the 72nd to the 75th minute, turning a close a game Monday into an easy 5-1 triumph.
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Kennedy’s forwards had plenty of space to work with in the final third at the time because the Centurions (5-7-1, 1-1-0) had pushed most of their players up the field, to try and erase a one goal deficit.
All Ibarra had to do to score his second goal of the game with eight minutes remaining was jog into the box and tap the ball in. The senior midfielder has moved in a three-way tie for second in the county in goals with 12. Velasquez and Hunter both scored in a similar fashion, having lots of room to work with before taking their shots. Only their’s went inside the far post.
“You score that third goal like we did, and then all of a sudden, they (Cypress) are pushing up farther, and they don’t have that desire to get back,” Kennedy coach Tom Link said. “And then, bam … bam. Goals four and five. We are scoring goals. We just have to work on our defense. We have to stop people from scoring a bit better.”
The Fighting Irish (4-5-3, 1-1-1) took a two-goal lead into halftime after Beshoy Yakim scored his first goal of the season in a rather unusual fashion – off an indirect free kick from inside the box because Cypress’ goal keeper touched a back pass with his hands.
But two minutes into the second half, Cypress pulled to within a goal of Kennedy when Alex Rodriguez redirected a pass from Shawn Dettmer inside the far post. Dettmer had two more chances to score in the half for the Centurions, his best coming in 53rd minute when he dribbled around two Kennedy defenders and into the box where he took a shot from 10 yards out that was just wide of the near post.
Hanging onto a lead has been a bit of a problem for the Fighting Irish this season. Last week, they held a 2-1 lead over Valencia at halftime, but had to settle for a 3-3 tie. And then at the Wildcat Cup in December, Kennedy lost two games in the last five minutes.
“That is the biggest thing we have been working on,” Link said. “Yes, that is a concern.”