Penalty kick sparks NMMI’s 2nd-half surge

NMMI’s Victor Rico and Eluid DeLeon battle for a loose ball during Tuesday’s match at Yucca. Photo by Eric Kluth

By Rick White

The New Mexico Military Institute Colts finished the match the same way they started it — undefeated and unscored upon.
Lawrence Paustian scored two goals as NMMI beat the Clovis Wildcats 4-0 win Tuesday in a non-district game at the Yucca Soccer Complex.
Unlike NMMI, which has outscored its first three opponents 14-0, the youthful Wildcats (1-3) are still searching for offensive consistency to build on.
“I saw some positive things,” Clovis coach Shaun Gill said. “We had stretches where we put four of five real good runs and passes together, only to make a mental mistake or a bad pass — and then we’d be back on defense again.”
NMMI coach Kevin Jones switched Paustian from fullback to the front line early in the first half, and the move paid almost immediate dividends as the speedy forward scored on a breakaway in the 27th minute following a Clovis turnover. Paustian chipped the ball over a sliding Dwayne Roberts, who was stellar in goal with 12 saves.
Two of NMMI’s three second-half goals came on penalty kicks, including one by midfielder Diego Villarreal five minutes into the half that gave the Colts a 2-0 and changed the complexion of the game.
Villarreal, NMMI’s primary playmaker in midfield, blasted a shot past Roberts after the Wildcats were called for a handball in the box.
“We’ve really been struggling on offense, and all of a sudden we had to make up two goals instead of one and the guys were feeling it,” Gill said.
“Then we started getting back on heels a little bit on defense and didn’t really start getting any kind of offense thrust until the last 15 minutes or so.”
But that time, Clovis trailed 3-0 as Paustian scored his second goal midway through the half when he one-timed a through pass by midfielder Adrienne Hubbard.
“He’s pretty fast and I didn’t feel they could keep up with him,” Jones said.
The Wildcats’ best scoring chance came midway through the first half when Patrick Jones missed a wide open net off a rebound.
After NMMI goalie Rodrigo Villarreal stopped Devon Aragon’s shot from in close, Jones ran on a bouncing rebound but fired the ball over the net.
NMMI outshot Clovis 22-15.
Roberts was at his best in the first half, aggressively plucking crossing balls out of the air and making several diving saves.
He also received help from fullback Matt Gonzales, who knocked away a header by NMMI’s Michell Padres at the goal line to keep the score 1-0 at halftime.