By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
The Benton boys' soccer team got a pair of second half goals from junior Christian Acosta Bernal, including the go-ahead score with three minutes remaining, and the Cardinals held on to beat Bishop LeBlond 2-1 at Eagle Stadium Thursday.
After a scoreless first half, Benton (3-4) started to get touches on offense more frequently, and touches that were of higher quality.
Acosta Bernal buried the first goal of the match on a breakaway down the sideline. He kicked the ball hard, a few feet into the air and it was buried into the right side of the net, giving Benton a 1-0 lead with 23:56 remaining.
"Coming out and getting that first score, that really gave us the momentum and it gave us what we needed to do to keep our game," Benton coach Anthony Dice said. "Keep playing our system, our offense and getting those touches up in the middle. Making it to where we were making the runs, and that's where we stuck strong and we did what needed to be done."
LeBlond (5-3) struck back just over seven minutes later as senior Davis Jungbluth collected the ball in the box and ricocheted a shot off of the right post, tying the match at 1-1 with 16:43 to go.
The next 13 minutes featured a lot of jostling up and down the pitch, with possession changing every couple of touches or so.
LeBlond had chances to take a lead, including two second half corner kicks, but the Cardinals played scrappy defense in the 18-yard box.
With time quickly waning, Benton had the perfect connection offense when they needed it. Jorge Reynoso laid out a perfect cross in the middle to Acosta Bernal, who had open space and bounced in the go-ahead goal off of the left post to put the Cardinals in front for good at 2-1.
"I just wanted to shoot and make the goal," Acosta Bernal said. "I wanted to fire it and make it in. I was upset they made it 1-1, but I told in my mind, 'Let's go. We got minutes. We're going to make a second goal' and we did it."
The win is Benton's second straight, as they avenged a 2-1 loss to the Eagles in the city soccer round robin back on August 29.
The Cardinals came in riding high after a convincing 5-1 over Savannah two days prior.
"We were on our ropes," Dice said, as his team entered the week on a four-match losing streak. "We were really needing to get this win. Savannah Tuesday and come in and play our butts off. That's what we did. We played that whole 80 minutes, we did what we needed to do and I'm very happy for everybody."
The Cardinals finished with nine shots-on-goal in all. LeBlond had seven. Benton keeper Curran Stuck had six saves in the goal, while Cole Stevenson had seven.
Benton will be at Chillicothe this coming Tuesday. LeBlond, who played its third match in four days, heads to Savannah that same day.
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