The University City boys soccer team spent almost the entire day Monday trying to hold off the McCluer Comets offensive surge during the opening game of the Comet Classic Soccer Tournament at McCluer High School in Florrisant.
And for the first 50 minutes of the match, the Lions really had no trouble keeping the Comets off the scoreboard.
But in the final 30 minutes, U. City couldn’t hold McCluer off any longer, finally succumbing in a 3-1 loss to the Comets.
“Last year, this game was a 5-0 victory for McCluer,” U. City head coach Bradley Land said. “So (finishing 3-1) today was a step in the positive direction. We’ve got to take that and build on it.
“We had trouble scoring last year. So much, that we only scored 12 goals all last year. It’s something we need to improve on this year. And the way we’re going to do that is to keep working.”
Doing that work almost netted U. City the lead early in the second half, when sophomore Gianni Cook nearly headed a free kick from teammate Frances Stuart past McCluer goalkeeper Nic Vivian in the eighth minute.
Unfortunately though, Vivian managed to corral the deflection and keep U. City off the board.
That play went from big to huge about a minute later, when McCluer’s Chris Ndirangu took a pass from teammate Chris Skees and blasted a shot past U. City goalie Dominic Long to put the Comets up 1-0 instead.
Ndirangu wasn’t finished putting the hurt on U. City either.
He added a second goal off a pass from teammate Marvin Nelson to make in 2-0 in the second half’s 22nd minute.
That play seemed to spark some offensive fire from the Lions.
In the 26th minute, U. City senior Ben Aronberg narrowly missed on two point-blank scoring chances, which both turned into sprawling saves by McCluer’s Vivian.
Five minutes later though, U. City finally broke through when junior Doug McCray weaved his way through the McCluer box and peppered a shot past Vivian to make the score 3-1.
“Doug’s got an exellent left foot,” Land said. “The more shots he can get, the better.”
The score was McCray’s first of the season, and he almost got a second in the 35th minute when a centering pass from the left flank was sent his way
But the ball was deflected out of bounds by a McCluer defender before McCray could get his foot or head on it.
Two minutes later, the play became moot when McCluer’s Nelson scored his first goal of the season, an assist to Ndiaye that eliminated almost any chance of a U. City comeback.
The Lions are now 1-4, with four straight losses, but will look to break that string with more games this week in the Comet Classic.
U. City is slated to host its next contest, which will be Wednesday, Sept. 14 against an opponent that hasn’t been determined yet.
Next week, the Lions will get back to regular-season play with a game at Ladue on Sept. 20, and a game at home against Parkway Central on Sept. 22.
Score by Halves
MC: Chris Ndirangu (2), assisted by Chris Skees. 9th Minute
MC: Chris Ndirangu (3), assisted by Marvin Nelson. 22nd Minute
UC: Doug McCray (1), unassisted. 31st Minute
MC: Marvin Nelson (1), assisted Keith Brownlee, 37th Minute