In the space of a few minutes, North Texas conceded, scored, then conceded again, leading to a PK loss after a 2-2 draw.
New Argentine Lautaro Taboada made his first start for North Texas, Carl Sainte notched two assists, and Tomas Pondeca scored to continue his hot streak.
Lautaro Taboada got his first North Texas start, up top on the right of Mulato. Pondeca started in the midfield, continuing a string of starts and good performances
North Texas started well, on the front foot and pushing through the middle. Just after the 6-minute mark, Henri Santos lofts a ball over the backline for Pondeca, who collected a rebounded shot from the keeper to find Avayevu in the box but it is whistled off for the ball going beyond the touchline.
After many minutes of midfield battles, the next real chance for the home side came again through Pondeca, who received a good pass from Nolan Norris outside the box and unleashed a blast from 20 yards, well-struck but straight at the keeper’s palms.
North Texas got a huge let-off just before the hydration break, as a Tacoma attacker slipped in behind Nolan Norris and got on the end of a cross, but sent the ball far into the stands rather than the net.
Antonio Carrera kept the game scoreless, by way of a great reaction save, which denied a close-in shot by Tacoma.
After a good start, North Texas had their ears pinned back for much of the first half, with 10% less possession as well as fewer shots, as the teams went into the break.
Diego Garcia replaced Jose Mulato at halftime.
GOAL! Carl Sainte pushed high and intercepted a pass out from the back by Tacoma, then fed a pass to the top of the 18 to Pondeca, who did well to set himself and smash home the opening goal.
North Texas controlled the game for the 10 minutes following the goal, but on Tacoma’s next attack, Norris got beat and went for a last-ditch slide tackle, but did not get the ball and conceded a penalty.
Not long after the penalty was converted, NTSC pushed forward once again.
GOAL! Carl Sainte found Diego Garcia in a pocket of space outside the 18, who whipped it across his body for a stunning goal to put the home side back on top.
Tacoma marched down the field immediately following this for the equalizer. A loose ball found an unmarked visitor who put it bottom corner past a screened Carrera.
Neither side threatened each other after the flurry of goals, with the sides knotted at full time, Kicks from the spot remained to decide who would take home the extra point.
North Texas scored their first four penalties, with Henri Santos, Pablo Torre, Tomas Pondeca, and Hope Avayevu all finding the net. Carrera came up big with a two-handed save on Tacoma’s third penalty to give North Texas the chance at the extra point.
Diego Pepi stepped up for the potential game-winner, but his closed-off hips told the story of his intentions, and his attempt was saved.
Into the sudden death portion of the shootout, Andre Costa scored his attempt but another set of closed hips by Herbert Endeley showed his cards and the goalie saved a bottom-corner penalty once again.
Tacoma would score and leave the shootout with the extra point. North Texas has now lost 7 of 8 shootouts in 2023.
Quotes and Takeaways
Another late goal, then a loss on kicks from the spot, which is becoming a trend for North Texas.
The hip shape is important for penalties, as a flat starting hip shape can pin the shooter into having to shoot across his body to have a good strike, giving the goalie a better idea as to where the shot is going to go.
Interim Coach John Gall on the draw and then loss on PKs, “It is difficult, the boys are putting a lot of effort and desire out on the field. I felt as if we were better at times, they are a good team, third in the table for a reason. We put ourselves in a hole with mistakes, that’s football, young players are gonna make mistakes”
Coach Gall also may have alluded to the Halftime sub of Garcia for Mulato, “individually we had some players that were not doing the plan and expectation for the first half.” North Texas controlled the second half much more, with Gall citing the team’s direct play as the result.
Gall remained optimistic about his team’s performance despite the result, “There are lots of positive takeaways, we made a lot of adjustments for a quite good opponent. Came out in the second half and dominated the game.”
On Taboada’s first home start, “I think the difficulty for Lautaro is a multitude of things, he’s come off the bench and done well, maybe a bit too much. Today he looked more composed and a lot better. He has a bright future.”
Gall cited confidence in Pondeca as an aid in his success, “Well I have known Tomas for a long time, when you show some type of belief in him he’s gonna take off. He’s a hard-working kid for himself and for his team. He’ll be the first one to say it is not about him, it is about the team.”
Pondeca cites his will to “help the team in any way” as well as his close-quarters IQ from Futsal in aiding his recent hot streak.
North Texas travels to Vancouver to take on Whitecaps 2 on Friday, August 25th.