No. 7 ranked T-Birds top Iowa Lakes, 3-1, in home opener

Freshman midfielder Lucas Lyra (No. 12)
Freshman midfielder Lucas Lyra (No. 12)

CONCORDIA, Kansas — The No. 7 ranked Cloud County Community College men's soccer team, less than 24 hours after a disappointing 1-1 tie in a scrimmage against Kansas Wesleyan University, rebounded to get its regular season off to a fine start with a 3-1 home victory over Iowa Lakes Community College.

Cloud (1-0-0 overall) struck for two late first-half goals to take a comfortable 2-0 lead into halftime.

Freshman midfielder Lucas Lyra kicked off the scoring at the 38th-minute mark with a workmanlike goal as he cleaned up a loose ball in Iowa Lakes' box.

Just five minutes, 48 seconds later the T-Birds struck again, this time on a beautiful play that started at midfield via a 20-yard pass put on the money by freshman midfielder Robert Kelly.

Kelly sent a deep ball down the right side to sophomore midfielder Hakeem Smith. Smith turned the corner on his man and found a streaking Ronaldo dos Santos, who deflected Smith's crossing pass to give Cloud County a 2-0 advantage.

In the second half, sophomore forward Luiz Garcia buried Cloud County's third goal of the game, assisted by freshman Guilherme Martins. The goal was a welcomed sight for Garcia, who had two great scoring chances earlier in the game clank off the cross bar and off the left post.

"Luiz has been a little unlucky so far. He did the same thing (hit the crossbar) in (Tuesday's scrimmage)," said Cloud County head coach, James Ross. " He needed to see the ball go in the back of the net. I think this could break things open for him where he starts scoring and assisting on a lot of goals."

Unfortunately for the T-Birds, a breakdown late in the game opened the door for a goal by Iowa Lakes in the 87th minute that spoiled the shutout opportunity.

Freshman goalkeeper Charles Albuquerque would instead settle for three saves on Wednesday, including back-to-back diving stops he made midway through the first half to keep the game scoreless at the time.

"That guy is going to be a difference maker," said Ross, referring to Albuquerque. "He didn't get tested much (Wednesday), but he was strong on the early one versus one and against the corner kicks he faced."

Cloud County will look to build off Wednesday's win when it heads off to Bethany College today for a scrimmage. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The T-Birds will then resume regular season action at 4 p.m. Tuesday on the road against Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa.

"We have a lot of work to do if we want to win the (KJCCC West), if we want to win the region, and if we want to win a national title," Ross said. "We need to keep getting better every day."