By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
West Texas A&M quickly took the suspense out of the match.
The Buffaloes tallied three minutes into the contest and did all of their scoring in the first half to beat Eastern New Mexico University’s men 3-0 in Tuesday’s Southwest Soccer Conference opener for both teams at the ENMU pitch.
WT, playing its season opener, was held to a scoreless tie by the Greyhounds (1-3-1) last year in Portales. This time, the Buffs quickly took control and stayed in command throughout.
Josh Fender, one of only three seniors on the team, scored on a header from close range off a penalty kick by Antonio Barrera to give the Buffs the lead. Barrera and midfielder Tom Nutter, both freshmen, finished out the scoring with goals before the match had reached the 30-minute mark.
“We wanted to get on top quickly,” WT coach Butch Lauffer said. “We wanted to start the season off in a positive manner.”
The Hounds, coming off a win and a shutout tie over the weekend, never threatened.
ENMU coach Carlos Elizondo was distressed by the ease with which West Texas A&M scored, particularly the first two goals. Barrera’s goal came from about eight yards out after a crossing pass deflected off an Eastern defender.
“When you give up two goals the way we did, it’s pretty demoralizing,” Elizondo said. “It’s almost impossible to come back from that.”
He said that while the Hounds played better in the second half, he had anticipated a more competitive match.
“I didn’t expect to give up two goals the way we did,” he said. “Without that, it would’ve been a totally different match.”
Some lineup changes in the second half helped, Elizondo said, noting that the Hounds’ subs may have played better than their starters.
“We’re deep enough now that if people in the game don’t do the job, I can call on someone else,” he said. “We’ve brought in some players this year that are making an impact on the game.”
Lauffer, too, noted that the Buffs have done some housecleaning with only a handful of players back from last year. In addition to the three seniors, WT has only two juniors.
“We’ve been in the process of purging the roster a little bit,” he said. “It’s a pretty young team.”