By Monty Campbell
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE The intermittent light rain and near freezing temperatures were not enough to slow down the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs on Friday evening as they defeated the Shoemaker Grey Wolves 5-1 at Avenue E Field.
"This was a big win for us after our (3-0) letdown down in Bryan on Tuesday," Bulldawg head coach Hagen Streckel said. "We knew we had to step it up against Shoemaker, who gave Belton a tough game, and we definitely did."
Copperas Cove (9-7-1 overall, 4-1 District 13-5A) cracked the Shoemaker defense in the 28th minute. Stephen Ramirez was hauled down in the penalty box while making a run down the left side of the pitch, resulting in a penalty kick for the Dawgs.
Freshman Jaime Tamez struck the ball soundly past the Shoemaker goalkeeper while slipping on the wet grass. That goal seemed to open the floodgates for the Bulldawgs as they continued to pressure the Grey Wolf defense.
In the 35th minute, that pressure finally paid off as David Martinez connected with Mario Goins with a well-placed ball from midfield, springing Goins for the breakaway. Goins finished the play by beating the keeper. Shoemaker protested Goins was offside.
That frustration of a possible missed call carried over and, in the 36th minute, Shoemaker's Raphael Correa was handed two consecutive yellow cards resulting in a red card and ejection for arguing with the official.
Neither side mounted much offense in the waning minutes of the first half with Cove clinging to a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Shoemaker (3-9-1, 1-4) responded to the adversity of the late first-half happenings by controlling play the first five minutes of the second half. In the 46th minute, Luke Saavedra juked two Copperas Cove defenders, creating some open space for a shot. As Christian Suess came out to contest the shot, Saavedra hooked the ball just wide of the far post and the Cove shutout was preserved.
Tamez made his presence felt soon after the near goal. In the 48th minute, he was taken down in the box for another Bulldawg penalty kick. This time, Martinez buried it past the Shoemaker keeper.
Tamez was not done exploiting the Shoemaker defense. He scored his 10th goal of the season and second of the night six minutes later as Anton Wright sprung him with a pass from midfield.
"We are really improving on our through balls," Streckel said. "Last year, we couldn't even think of getting a through ball past and our strikers are finally getting their diagonals down."
The Grey Wolves got on the board with about 12 minutes left in the game when they were awarded a penalty kick from a Cove player touching the ball with his hands in the box.
Alex Rojo beat Ian Streckel, who had replaced Suess four minutes earlier, with a shot that slipped just below Streckel's stretched-out body.
Goins closed the scoring with his second goal of the game with five minutes remaining on the clock, setting up a showdown with the Belton Tigers on Tuesday night at Avenue E with first place in the district on the line. That game is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Shoemaker will attempt to get back on the winning side of the ledger when it hosts the A&M Consolidated Tigers Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
Contact Monty Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org