Cardona’s First-Half Tally Sends Men’s Soccer to Historic Victory in Rivalry Game with Oklahoma Wesleyan

Press Release Photo
Junior Marco Cardona nets his first goal of the season, helping JBU upset No. 3 Oklahoma Wesleyan, 1-0 (Courtesy of JBU Sports Information)

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (September 22, 2015) -- Junior Marco Cardona finished a cross in the box in the 32nd minute of play, vaulting the John Brown men’s soccer team (3-4-1) to a 1-0 win over No. 3 Oklahoma Wesleyan on Tuesday (Sept. 22) night at the OKWU Soccer Complex, handing JBU a piece of history in the process and Wesleyan its first loss of the season.

Cardona’s strike in the box not only improved John Brown’s all-time record to 28-5-4 (.757) in the two programs’ 38th all-time meeting, JBU’s oldest rivalry dating back to 1980, but also handed the Golden Eagles a victory against the highest-ranked opponent on the road in program history.

“Oklahoma Wesleyan is an excellent team and is setting the standard for what soccer should be played like in this region,” said head coach Scott Marksberry. “Our guys out wide did a great job limiting chances on the outside and forcing play into the middle, limiting was is truly a potent offense. It always feels good to get a result against a team of this caliber.”

Cardona is no stranger to scoring at the OKWU Soccer Complex as he potted his first collegiate goal in his first-career appearance back in 2013, a 5-2 John Brown loss, to then-No. 14 Wesleyan on Aug. 26. Two years later, Cardona netted an even more dramatic goal in the 32nd minute, finishing a cross from freshman Ryan Williams in the box, just five yards out from the goal line.

The play began when the Golden Eagles converted an OKWU clear into a counter attack. Senior Logan Hellinghausen collected the clear on the right flank and dumped the ball to Williams, who ran up the sideline before sending a perfect cross to Cardona in the box. While falling backwards, Cardona poked the ball past Wesleyan keeper Luke Stojanovic and into the bottom right corner of the goal.

“Marco just looked sharper than usual in warmups today,” added Marksberry. “His impact on the game was significantly higher than it has been. It was a scrappy goal, but he just stuck with [the play].”

The Golden Eagles, which had suffered back-to-back 1-0 shutout losses entering the match, finally broke its 213:22 scoreless drought and rode five saves from sophomore keeper Adam Holt to the upset. Holt made his best save on the night in the 71st minute on an Alexander Simovic blast from the top of the box. Simovic sent a blast destined to be a top-shelf equalizer, but Holt got enough glove on the attempt before the ball grazed past him and found the crossbar, deflecting over the goal.

Holt (3-4-1) was called upon to make two more saves in the second half, and was the recipient of some luck as Wesleyan found iron three other times on the night, two of those chances coming in the second half. The clean sheet was Holt’s third solo shutout of the season, seventh of his career, as he finished the night with five saves.

Wesleyan (6-1-0) held the vast majority of possession in the second half after a first half that JBU earned equal possession time. OKWU narrowly out-shot the visitors in the first half, 8-6, but held a commanding 8-2 advantage in the final 45 minutes of play. The hosts finished the contest with a 16-8 margin in shot attempts.

Cardona, Williams and Hellinghausen led John Brown with two shot attempts on the night while Simovic paced the Wesleyan offense with three shot attempts, all on target. Four other OKWU players managed a pair of shot attempts while Stojanovic earned one save in the loss.

The Golden Eagles are now 10-5 (.667) all-time at the OKWU soccer complex and earned its first victory in Bartlesville since Sept. 24, 2009, also a 1-0 victory.

John Brown will now close its non-conference slate on Saturday (Sept. 26) when it welcomes Rogers State (Okla.) to Alumni Field in a 7:30 p.m. kick off.

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