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UJ SOCCER: Zepeda's two goals leads UJ to victory

University of Jamestown's Ruben Zepeda moves the ball in front of Joshua Shelley and Christian Payant (5) of Clarke University during men's soccer action Friday. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 2
University of Jamestown's Aaron Pike prepares to boot the ball in front of Justin Cisneros of Clarke University during men's soccer action Friday. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

University of Jamestown’s Ruben Zepeda carries himself like a seasoned veteran on the soccer field.

Only a sophomore, Zepeda buried UJ’s first two goals of the 2018 season Friday at Jimmie Turf Field, lifting Jamestown men’s soccer to a 4-1 result over Clarke University (Iowa). Zepeda, from Puebla, Mexico, tallied seven goals for the Jimmies last season and the team’s top returning offensive threat didn’t disappoint out of the gate.

“I’m happy to score but it’s all because of the team effort,” said Zepeda, an attacking midfielder who now dons the No. 10 jersey, instead of the No. 19 he wore as a freshman. “The team gave a great effort physically, and also mentally because we started 0-1.

“We had to overcome that disadvantage, so I’m really glad we won and I’m proud of the team.”

The Clarke University Pride (2-1-0) struck first in the 11th minute behind a goal scored by Jordan Perry. Clarke entered Friday’s match having yet to allow a goal after opening the season with shutout victories against Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) and Viterbo (Wisc.).

But Zepeda kicked off four straight tallies by the Jimmies in the 41st minute, firing a pretty strike from top-center of the 18-yard box and past Pride keeper Michael Lubahn. Zepeda backed that up with the go-ahead goal early in the second half, winning the ball at midfield from a pair of Pride defenders and beating Lubahn on the breakaway.

The play was a corner kick gone awry for Clarke, as the set-piece attempt ended up being deflected out of the Prides’ attacking third where Zepeda was waiting and able to bounce.

“The game went kind of the way I was expecting it to, it just took us a little longer to figure it out,” said UJ men’s soccer coach Tommy Nienhaus. “(Zepeda’s) first goal was really nice, and then we saw some opportunities on our defensive quarter. Normally, Ruben defends with the rest of the team but we had him cheat a little bit and off to the race’s he went.

“We’re expecting big things from Ruben. He’s gonna have to help us carry the load, especially since we have some younger attacking players.”

Jamestown put the game to bed barely a minute after Zepeda’s game-winner with a successful penalty kick recorded by West Fargo’s Ben Prochniak. Freshman Aaron Pike wrapped it up in the 75th minute, finding the mesh for the Jimmies’ fourth score.

Jamestown keeper Jake Askew made one save in the match, as the Jimmies outshot the Pride 17-5 overall. The match was Jamestown’s second attempt at opening the season after Monday’s game against Providence (Manitoba) was abandoned in the 57th minute because of weather.

The Jimmies (1-0-0) host Saint John’s (Minn.) at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.

“There were some individual defensive lapses, and that’s what led to (Clarke’s) goal,” Nienhaus said. “But in terms of our style of play, we’re kinda imposing our possession which is nice to see, especially against a good team. Then it’s just a matter of figuring out how to score.”

Women fall at (10) Columbia

University of Jamestown women’s soccer fell 1-0 at 10th-ranked Columbia College (Mo.) on Friday. The Cougars won the game off a corner kick in the 80th minute with Kelsey Mirts given credit for the goal.

The Jimmies, who are receiving votes in the NAIA top 25 coaches poll, received five saves from senior goalkeeper Lauren Sayler. The Jimmies scrimmage North State University on Tuesday in Aberdeen, S.D.

Jamestown 4, Clarke (Iowa) 1

CU 1 0 -- 1

UJ 1 3 -- 4

1. C, Jordan Perry (Brenden Dauphin), 11th minute; 2. J, Ruben Zepeda, 41st; 3. J, Zepeda, 70th; 4. J, Ben Prochniak, penalty kick, 71st; J, Aaron Pike (Prochniak), 75th.

Goalie saves: J, Jake Askew. C, Michael Lubahn 5.

Records: Jamestown 1-0-0. Clarke 2-1-0.

(10) Columbia College 1, (RV) Jamestown 0

UJ 0 0 -- 0

CC 0 1 -- 1

1. C, Kelsey Mirts (Molley Klein), corner kick, 80th minute.

Goalkeeper saves: J, Lauren Sayler 5. C, Kate Marshall 4.

Records: CC 1-1. UJ 3-1.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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