Cullman's Miguel Tizapa (17) finished the night with three goals and two assists. / Nick Griffin
CULLMAN – The Cullman Bearcats hosted the West Morgan Rebels Tuesday night for their 2018 home opener and the night ended with a 5-2 victory for the ‘Cats.
The Rebels got out to an early lead with a score in the first few minutes, but Miguel Tizapa quickly responded with a goal at the 34-minute mark to even it up at one. Tizapa finished the night with three goals and two assists. One of those assists went to Isaac Rodriguez, who put the ‘Cats up 2-1 with 32 minutes to play in the first half.
West Morgan hung around in the first half, scoring at the 26-minute mark to tie the game up at two. Cullman was able to take the lead back before halftime on a second goal from Rodriguez on an assist from Tizapa that put the Bearcats up 3-2 at the break. Just before the half, the ‘Cats lost Luis Gante to a right ankle injury that he was not able to return from in the second half.
The second half was all Bearcats as they were able to make some adjustments defensively that gave the Rebels problems, and they got a good performance in the net from Jaron Potter, who collected three saves during the game. Tizapa put in two more goals for the ‘Cats in the second half that put the Rebels away and secured Cullman’s third win of the season, putting them at 3-1-0.
Head coach Casey Harbin was happy with the adjustments his team made defensively in the second half that allowed the Bearcats to pull away with the win.
“They stepped up their defensive pressure. We played better in the second half, which is odd because we’ve played well in the first half and poorly in the second half all these games,” Harbin said. “It’s all about completing a game, finishing a game, and they definitely amped up the pressure and that’s why (West Morgan) didn’t score.”
Harbin was happy to get the win but saw some issues with his team’s performance that he’s anxious to work on going forward this season with some big games coming up.
“This was a poor game. Poor fundamentals, poor first touches, poor passing. It almost feels like a loss, and all due respect to West Morgan because that was a team we needed to play, a different type of soccer than we’ve seen in the last three games. It just feels like a loss to us because we’re always looking at how we play, and we feel like we took a step backwards tonight and that’s not in the game plan,” Harbin said. “We’ve got a long way to go with these guys, that’s why it kills us in games like this because we’ve got a long way to go, we can’t really afford any steps back. We’re still looking for an identity.”
The ‘Cats will get back to work on the practice field this week and try to polish some things up before they travel to Brewer on Monday, Feb. 26.
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