Salem boys soccer battled back and forth against Morgan County on Wednesday night, and thanks to a hat trick from Daniel Rodriguez the Seminoles pulled out a 4-3 win over the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs struck first after the Salem goalkeeper blocked a Bulldog penalty kick, and a second shot following the penalty shot, Morgan County was able to net a third shot to the right of the goalie. However, just two minutes later Salem tied the game with Rodriguez's first goal, a header.
Salem played well on defense at times, but Seminole mistakes set up two penalty shots for Morgan County, both leading to goals. In the 49th minute Manson Mancuso scored Salem's second goal of the game, but the Bulldogs converted on a penalty shot and tied the game at two.
"[I gave] the defense directions to play easy and move the ball wide," Anani Amaizo, Salem head coach, said after the game. "That's what we tried to do in the first half. By the second half [we had too much confidence], that's where the mistakes started coming in. I think we'll be able to correct that as well."
Despite the back and forth affair, Salem looked to be the better team for the entire night, but mistakes kept the Bulldogs in the game. Amaizo highlighted ball control as one of the issues for the team to work on going forward.
"I think our midfield was the issue," Amaizo said. "We're not keeping control of the ball or keeping possession, so we're just letting them back in and not covering our back properly. I think that's where we're lacking right, and we need to work on that to correct that."
With the game knotted up at 2-2, Rodriguez struck again scoring off of a free kick, but that wouldn't be the game's final lead change. With nine minutes left Morgan County found the back of the net yet again with a hard shot to the left of the goalkeeper.
The pressure was on for Salem not to let another lead result in the team's third loss of the season. Rodriguez drove deep in the box faked out the goalkeeper with his stutter-step and drove to the middle for the easy shot and the final goal to give Salem a 4-3 win.
As for Rodriguez, Amaizo says he's playing the best out of any of his players right now, but he wants others to step up to take the pressure off of him.
"Right now he's the only one pulling the team up. He's my key player and I'm kind of worried right now. The way he's playing - as you can see in the game they're trying to hurt him. So I'm trying [to get] somebody to step up to help him out, but he's the only one pulling the team up and nobody's there to support him," Amaizo said.
Amaizo added that he wants Rodriguez to be able to relax a little bit and not expend so much energy trying to carry the team by himself. In order to do that someone will need to step up for the ‘Noles. Amaizo seemed proud to get the win but said he and his team were going to work on their mistakes by watching film.
Salem's next match will be Monday at 7:30 p.m. when the Seminoles host Woodland high school.