Crusader striker nets six goals

Published 10:27 pm Monday, September 21, 2009

First Baptist’s head soccer coach, George Martin, will admit his Crusader team is a work in progress. A season after winning only two games, with one that came by forfeit, the progress has been easy to see so far this season as First Baptist has already tallied four victories.

Two other things the Crusaders don’t lack are excitement and goals, even on Monday when the Crusaders fought to a 9-8 loss against visiting Alliance Christian.

Last week, First Baptist won a pair of games by scores of 8-7 and 7-1, and played Calvary to a 3-3 tie on Friday.

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On Monday afternoon, Alliance outshot and out-possessed the Crusaders from start to finish, but First Baptist’s attack was still at full-strength thanks mostly to senior Pete Twisdale who piled up six goals and two assists.

While Alliance moved the ball around the field well and attacked in numbers, the Crusaders counterattacked often with only a clearance, a goal kick, and maybe then one or two passes springing Twisdale, who’s a lanky, but fast, 6-foot-4 athlete who’s also a standout basketball player for the Crusaders, forward past the backline of Alliance defenders.

After Alliance had already had the ball in and around the First Baptist box and forced Crusader goalie Jason Whitlow in three early saves, First Baptist capitalized on its first break toward the Alliance goal.

In the eighth minute, Wesley Hughes booted a long ball out of the Crusader half and Twisdale sprinted for it, touched it past the oncoming Alliance goalie, then was all alone and he practically dribbled the ball across the goalline.

“When we scored first today, that was a big boost,” said Martin. Last season, Alliance beat First Baptist 8-0.

Alliance struck for goals in the 11th and 15th minutes to take the lead, and as strange as it sounds in a high-scoring game, the rest of the way was either an Alliance lead or a tied score.

Twisdale scored again in the 19th minute, intercepting an Alliance goal kick, then dribbling to about 20 yards from goal before sending a right-footed shot low and a couple inches inside the left post.

Alliance regained the lead barely more than a minute later, but First Baptist’s fast-break style tied the match again seven minutes later. Luke Ognibene gained possession after a scramble for the ball in midfield, then looped a pass over Alliance’s two centerbacks. Twisdale was ready again, getting to the ball and booting it past the Alliance keeper.

Alliance scored two more times in the last 10 minutes of the half and led 5-3.

Four minutes into the second half, Russell Ballance assisted on Twisdale’s fourth goal of the day.

After Alliance regained a two-goal lead, the roles in the First Baptist offense switched as Twisdale passed to a breaking Hughes and Hughes poked a shot past the rushing Alliance goalie.

Two minutes later, in the 54th minute, Twisdale scored his fifth of the game, making it three shots and three goals for the Crusaders in the second half and a 6-6 game.

Alliance got the next two goals and held First Baptist off for the longest stretch of the match.

With four minutes left, a throw-in by Paryn Grodi sent Twisdale into the box. Twisdale fired a shot on goal, the Alliance keeper knocked it away, but Hughes headed in the rebound to make it 8-7 Alliance.

Two minutes later, the Crusaders earned an indirect kick 27 yards from goal. Hughes tapped the ball into play and Twisdale scored, sending a shot that found a gap through a four-player wall.

Less than 30 seconds after the ensuing kickoff, in the 79th minute, Alliance scored what proved the winning goal. Alliance had a 30-13 advantage in shots on goal. Whitlow made 21 saves for the Crusaders.

“I’m tickled to death with the kids. We’re already happy with the season,” said Martin. “We’ve had 12 players score so far this season. Last season, we had only four players score goals all year.”

First Baptist (4-3-1) plays at Beach on Friday afternoon. Beach beat the Crusaders 10-2 in First Baptist’s first match this season.