East Ascension, Holy Cross battle to draw in soccer _lowres

Advocate staff photo by APRIL BUFFINGTON -- East Ascension's Luis Lechuga, right, and Holy Cross' Miles Johnson battle for the ball Monday at Spartan Stadium in Gonzales.

GONZALES — The East Ascension and Holy Cross soccer teams have a lot in common. They’re both young teams looking to continue to climb the power rankings behind their strong back lines.

And after 80 minutes of play, they had something else in common — their score.

The Spartans and Tigers ended their nondistrict match in a 1-1 tie after both teams buried a penalty kick each. Keeping in theme, both were in the same, lower-right corner of the same goal, with East Ascension scoring in the first half and Holy Cross in the second.

East Ascension junior Saul Paniagua put the Spartans on the board in the 20th minute after Holy Cross freshman goalkeeper Thomas Dugal got called for a charge in the box.

Holy Cross freshman Oscar Matute sent in the equalizer in the 49th minute when his teammate, Miles Johnson, was hit on a shot from about eight yards out.

“Sometimes PKs happen. They happen to everyone, and it happened to us tonight,” East Ascension junior center back Dylan Vidrine said. “It’s unlucky, but it happens.”

The two penalty kick calls were only the beginning of what was a busy night for the officiating crew which doled out five cards, including a red, on the game’s 26 fouls. The Spartans led the way with 16 penalties.

Holy Cross junior left back Mitchell Smith was ejected in the 65th minute when he was called for a slide tackle, forcing the Tigers to finish the remainder of the night a man down.

“We maybe gave up a chance or two after that, but we also created three or four,” Holy Cross coach Luke Sheekey said. “So even down to 10 men, we were still dangerous. We held strong, and the boys pulled it through for a point, which is a well earned point when you go down to 10 men.”

Holy Cross had a chance to steal a win in the final seconds of the game when Matute lined up for a direct kick from about 30 yards out but was deflected by East Ascension keeper Dohnovan Aguilar.

The stop was only the latest in a stellar night for the Spartans back line, which put up a wall all night which limited the Tigers to only 10 shots, including three on frame. East Ascension put two of its nine tries on goal.

“I think my back line played great,” East Ascension coach Michael Zanco said. “They were very organized and they communicated. My center backs are my captains for a reason. They’re the backbone.”