All images: Jonathan Check
San Antonio Athenians SC extended their win streak to three matches with a 2-1 win over El Paso Surf on Saturday night at the Cibolo Multi-Event Center.
With only four teams in the small southwest division of United Women’s Soccer, it’s not too strange that the Athenians and Surf were playing each other for the second weekend in a row. On June 15 in El Paso, the Athenians came away with a commanding 4-0 win, yet things were much tighter this time around at the Athenians’ home ground.
El Paso started and ended the first half with attacking fervor but most of the first 45 minutes belonged to the Athenians side as they drove forward and looked dangerous more often.
While most of the Athenians’ attacks showed promise only to lack the killer pass or finish, they did manage to open the scoring in the 14th minute. A shot from midfielder July Cardenas, fed by forward Brooke Hanson, was apparently too much for the El Paso goalkeeper as she fumbled it and the ball rolled over the goalline. Cardenas scored for the second week running and Hanson provided her third assist of the season, the first two coming against FC Austin Elite two weeks ago.
El Paso again started the second half on the attack and it paid off less than three minutes in. An El Paso player dribbled forward from midfield and unleashed a blistering strike from outside the box which eluded the reach of goalkeeper Tara Lujan and found the top corner to draw the visitors level.
From that point on, the match was on a knife edge as both sides battled for the go-ahead goal. Most of the second 45 minutes was spent bogged down in midfield though as both sides struggled to break the other down and get good chances, but there was still one moment of magic remaining.
In the 90th minute, forward Briana Woodall scored the winning goal for the Athenians as she lofted a free kick above the reach of El Paso’s goalkeeper to settle the score. The goal was quite similar to a free kick she scored early in the 4-0 match in El Paso the week before.
The Athenians still have one more match this season as they play away to Houston Aces next Saturday. Befitting of the reigning UWS champions, Houston spoiled the Athenians’ inaugural home match on June 1 as they came away 5-0 winners.