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Erik Nielsen gives Lars Ludwigs a bear hug after Ludwgis' goal tied the match Sunday as Casey Ames looks on.
Courtesy: Torrey Vail

Rookies Cash In To Give Men's Soccer 2-1 Home-Opening Win

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 08/26/2012
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            SPOKANE, Wash. - A pair of rookies scored their first collegiate goals Sunday and Gonzaga University, with some strong performances from a host of contributors, downed Seattle University 2-1 in the home men's soccer opener Sunday afternoon in front of a sun-drenched crowd of 743.

            Lars Ludwigs, a sophomore transfer from Woellstein, Germany, drew the Bulldogs even at 1-1 when he scored at 70:43. It only took freshman Conner Bevans 3:15 to score his first collegiate goal and give the Bulldogs a lead they would protect over the final 16:02.

            The win came on the heels of a disappointing 2-1 overtime setback at the University of Washington Friday night, but Gonzaga (1-1-0)  head coach Einar Thorarinsson didn't believe his team would be flat heading into Sunday's match.

            "We had a good match Friday. I didn't worry about us coming back," a happy Thorarinsson said following the victory.

            And he rattled off a list of contributors, starting with Ludwigs and Bevans.

            "Conner is somebody to watch. Our midfielders played well and Lars had a good game," Thorarinsson said of the goal scorers. "Clark (Phillips) has come along and Nick (Hamer) is on fire. We've moved Nick to an outside position which is not his normal spot. But he was overlapping all day. We played well today, well enough to win."

            The Redhawks (1-1-0) got on the board early, Race Sciabica taking a thru ball from Marshall Kosaka and finding the net from 15 yards straightaway. But it was the only ball that would get by junior keeper Ryan Caballero, who finished with three saves.

            Caballero's best save of the day - a nail biter - came just four minutes into the second half when he came out of the goal to race Sciabica to the ball. Caballero arrived just in time to block the shot at point-blank range from about 15 yards and have the ball spin to his right out of bounds.

            Ludwigs goal was unassisted as he took a shot in traffic from the top of the 18 that was out of the reach to the left of SU keeper Jake Feener, who also had three saves.

            Clark Phillips was the quarterback in setting up the match-winning goal. He dribbled wide and deep down the left side and sent a cross to Bevans who battle through a pair of defenders to beat Feener straightaway from just inside the 18.

            "Clark worked hard to get the open assist," Thorarinsson said.

            Thorarinsson also singled out James Matern and Erik Nielsen for solid matches.

            "We had some guys who really helped us re-focus out there today," Thorarinsson said. "We've got sixteen, seventeen, eighteen guys who will be playing all year, but different guys will get different minutes all year like you saw today," Thorarinsson said in reference to his rotation Sunday as opposed to Friday.

            Freshman Nikolai Littleton was held out of Sunday's match after suffering an ankle injury Friday in warm-ups and seeing limited playing time at Washington. He also injured the ankle in an exhibition game two weeks ago.

            "We hope to have him back by Friday," Thorarinsson said,

            For the second time in three weeks Josh Phillips suffered a broken nose when a blocked shot came up and struck him squarely in the face late in the match. After be substituted out for some brief medical attention, he returned to action and finished the match.

            "He's a tough guy and you're not going to get him out of a match for very long," Thorarinsson said.

            The Bulldogs will host the Gonzaga Nike Classic this coming weekend. Oregon State University will face UC Santa Barbara at 1 p.m. Friday followed by the Zags taking on Manhattan College at 4 p.m. Sunday's action has OSU meeting Manhattan at 11 a.m. and Gonzaga battling UC Santa Barbara at 2 p.m. UC Santa Barbara was ranked fourth in the Soccer America preseason Top 25.