LAURINBURG — Former Scotland soccer coach and current Hoke skipper Colin McDavid said he’s happy with the way his team has performed during stretches this season, it just hasn’t shown in the win column.
Wednesday night in Laurinburg, the Bucks finally had their breakthrough, defeating the Scots 6-1 to win their first Southeastern Conference game.
“We’ve been playing well — the scores don’t indicate it, but finally the soccer gods kind of looked out for us when we scored so I’ll take that,” McDavid said. “It does come from them just plugging along. They haven’t put their heads down, they’ve been working hard and they’re a great bunch of boys to work for.”
Hoke was defeated 3-1 by Richmond and 3-0 by Lumberton in its first two conference contests, but the Bucks rebounded to down the Scots, who lost their second straight game after previously riding a four-game winning streak.
Scotland dropped to 5-5 overall and 1-2 in the SEC with the loss while Hoke improved to 5-7-1 and 1-2 in conference play.
The Bucks got on the board first when Darwyn Lopex Garcia knocked home a penalty kick at the 37:09 mark, setting the tone in a game that Hoke dominated from start to finish.
“A penalty kick in the first three minutes is tough to give up,” said Scotland coach Danny Gallagher. “It was a soft foul that happened to be inside the box, just too early for that to happen but it’s hard to dig out of that hole.”
Seven minutes later, Humberto Mejia put the Bucks up by two goals when he notched a goal off a corner kick.
At the 29:23 mark, the Scots saw their best opportunity to get back in the game slip from their grasps when Nyjel Collins-Jackson nearly headed in a ball while positioned in front of the goal. The ball bounced off the ground, then drilled the crossbar before falling harmlessly out of bounds.
Scotland never threatened again, and Hoke added to its lead when Edwin Andoney outran the defense and swiftly booted the ball past goalkeeper Tripp Wells with 9:03 to go in the first half.
“I like how we moved the ball tonight, we were very unselfish and moved the ball from side-to-side, crossing it in,” McDavid said. “We also defended well too. We have some young guys that are in the back that held their own very well.”
Whereas Hoke took advantage of its offensive opportunities, Scotland was unable to create a lot of chances on goal as the Bucks controlled possession for much of the game. When the Scots did have a shot, it was often deflected or sailed out of the field of play.
“There were a lot of times where we were 20 yards out and guys couldn’t take a shot, wouldn’t take a shot, whatever it was,” Gallagher said. “We have to start doing what we practice to try to get the opportunities … I think it’s just the hesitation that they want everything picture perfect.”
Hoke tacked on three more goals after the break — David Williams scored 10 minutes until the second half, then the Bucks notched two scores in a seven-minute span, which included Andoney nailing a shot from more than 30 yards out.
McKenzie White scored Scotland’s lone goal with seven minutes remaining in the game.
The Scots saw two players receive red cards — Shane Dubbs and Eurie Smith. Both players won’t miss today’s contest against Whiteville.
Gallagher said he plans on shifting players in his lineup around to see if it can create a spark for a Scots’ offense that has only scored one goal in its last two games.
“We’re going to try some different stuff when we go to Whiteville,” he said. “Maybe put McKenzie up there, he loves to shoot the ball so we’re going to try it. He has pace, he has strength so we’ll try to mix it up and reshuffle that midfield again.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.