LAKEWOOD — It took the Alexander Dawson soccer team a solid 15 minutes of play before it finally settled into Friday’s Class 3A state tournament match.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, by the time they finally began to find their rhythm the damage had already been done.
Lamar scored two goals in the first 12 minutes of play and never looked back, winning 4-0 and bouncing Dawson in the first round of the state tournament.
The Savages (12-4) were led by Manuel Tarango, who scored just 3 minutes into the game when he found himself one-on-one with keeper Tyler Morley following a long through ball that the striker chased down. Tarango easily slid the ball into the far corner of the net for a demoralizing early goal.
That scenario would be one that Dawson fans would become all too familiar with by the end of the day, as the Mustangs (7-8-1) were beaten on similar plays time and time again. While the lengthy passes resulted in offside calls just as often as they did scoring opportunities for LHS, they occurred frequently enough to seal Dawson’s fate.
“Once we realized (their plan) we tried to change our tactics and go Neanderthal too,” said Dawson head coach Bill Hempen, referring the Savages’ repeated attempts to race after deep balls. “We had our chances, but we just didn’t stick them.”
Tarango scored again in the 11th minute in a similar situation. The forward tallied all four of Lamar’s goals on the night and had a number of chances to increase the total, as the Savages got off 15 shots throughout the game compared to the Mustangs eight.
On the offensive end, Dawson was simply unable to break through the back line against the physical LHS defenders. Sophomore Jose Gutierrez had several chances, including a couple of attempts off free kicks, but was unable to ever find the back of the net.
“They were playing man-on-man on me, but usually there was more than one,” Gutierrez said. “It made it very difficult because I would try my hardest to turn and shoot, but it was almost impossible.”
Despite the early exit Dawson’s program should take comfort in knowing that this group will have plenty more opportunities to redeem itself in the near future. The Mustangs return two-thirds of their roster next year, including the six freshmen they fielded this season.
“Having a young team is not so easy at the beginning,” Gutierrez said, “but this team is going to grow together and hopefully by my senior year we will be much, much better.”
Lamar 4, Alexander Dawson 0
At Lakewood Memorial Park
Alexander Dawson (7-8-1, 5-1-1) 0 0 — 0
Lamar (12-4, 5-1) 2 2 — 4
Goals (assists) — Lamar: Manuel Tarango, 3rd minute; Tarango (Fernando Barajas), 11th minute; Tarango, 63rd minute; Tarango (Rosario), 74th minute.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Lamar: Jordan Jara (80-0-3). Alexander Dawson: Tyler Morley (76-4-4); Shawn O’Grady (4-0-0).