WALLA WALLA — After holding a 2-0 halftime lead, the Walla Walla Community College men’s soccer team scored three goals in less than 15 minutes to open the second half.
The Warriors cruised to the victory from there, downing NWAACC East Region foe Wenatchee Valley College, 5-1. Head coach Chad Bodnar said his team looked sluggish during the first half, but the third goal really seemed to get the Warriors going.
“Once we got that third one they kind of went in the dump a little bit,” Bodnar said. “It’s easy to jump on somebody when you smell blood. I think that’s what happened. We got that third (goal) then it just kind of came easy for them.”
After a Wenatchee Valley player was issued a yellow card in the 52nd minute, Walla Walla capitalized. On the ensuing free kick, Jhony Mendoza crossed the ball into the middle of the box and found teammate Franky Arroyo, who knocked it into the back of the net to make it 3-0.
It was the second free kick that Walla Walla scored on during the match. In the 44th minute, Mendoza once again pitched the ball into the box, with Mario Guizar capitalizing on the set-up.
Bodnar said Mendoza has assisted or scored on eight free kicks this season, as the coaching staff allows the talented centerback freedom to make plays.
“Jhony Mendoza has been really good at those all year,” Bodnar said. “It’s something that we really haven’t trained a whole bunch because it’s been working. We haven’t really put in a lot of set pieces because Jhony’s (got) a dangerous left foot. When you’ve got a guy like that you kind of let him do what he does.”
With a 3-0 lead, Walla Walla pounced two minutes later as Saif Al Rikabi received a lob pass from Austin Herrick and headed it past the keeper.
Guizar then finished the scoring for the Warriors in the 58th minute, as he wove through the defense on a breakaway and slid a shot to the left side of the charging goalie. Guizar, a midfielder, leads the Warriors in goals scored this season.
“He’s real good attacking when he’s running at players in the final third,” Bodnar said. “That’s kind of what he does so we’re less on him about defending and letting him do more of what he does. He’s been good for us in the attacking third and he did it again today.”
In the final 30 minutes of the game, Bodnar said he was able to get all of his players on the field. With the second unit on the field, Wenatchee Valley scored its only goal in the 72nd minute.
Walla Walla travels to play Columbia Basin College Saturday.