By Peyton Rives/Club Atletico Saint Louis
Club Atletico Saint Louis (1-2-1) defeated Ozark FC (1-3-1) in a strong 5-0 win on Saturday evening in front of a home crowd at SLUH.
The victory marks the first of the season for the Bluebirds, after coming up short in a few matches. Two players for CASTL combined for five goals.
“This was the most complete game we played all season,” CASTL forward Eric Lopez said. “The score showed that. We’ve played similar to this all season, but we have just had some lapses in concentration in other games.”
One problem through the first three games was the lack of consistent goal-scoring for the Bluebirds, but with an onslaught of five goals over the course of 90 minutes, CASTL finally found its footing.
The first goal was quick, as Lopez knocked in a goal in the third minute. After a long ball caused a miscommunication between Ozark’s defender and goalkeeper and a near-own goal, Lopez capitalized to give the Bluebirds the 1-0 lead.
Lopez didn’t relent after his first goal, scoring the team’s second goal in the 25rd minute of the game, giving the team some insurance.
“Ultimately, at the end of the day, the best thing you can hope for is a win,” Lopez said. “To be the one who kickstarts everything, is always a good feeling.”
With a successful first half and a 2-0 lead heading into halftime, the Bluebirds were on the way to victory and a strong second-half performance solidified this.
Forward Adama Kante, who subbed into the game in the 59th minute with a fresh set of legs, made his presence felt quickly, as he capitalized on a free kick just outside of the box in the 62nd minute. Having come off the bench in the second half, Kante brought new energy into the game.
“I think that after we scored two goals, the game kind of opened up,” Kante said. “We had five players on the wing, so we could just open up the field.”
Again, in the 79th minute, Kante scored for the second time but this time in open play. Off a skillful pass from Ivan Gutierrez, who recorded the assist, Kante scored, giving the Bluebirds an enormous 4-0 lead.
In the final minutes of the game, Kante was awarded a penalty kick after a foul was called on Ozark FC. Kante converted on the penalty kick in the 89th minute, solidifying a 5-0 victory and recording a hat trick.
“Since I was a kid, I was a goal-scorer,” Kante said. “The first two games, we didn’t score a lot of goals, and it was frustrating. Today was a good day to get the three goals.”
Kante is the first player in the Bluebird’s two NPSL seasons to record a hat trick. The last time a player scored multiple goals in one game occurred when Chevaughn Walsh scored two against FC Wichita in the 2018 season opener on March 12.
With the five goals, the Bluebirds doubled their goal total on the season, which now stands at eight, the third most in the Heartland Conference. Kante now leads the team with three goals. Lopez has now scored twice and Alsadiq Hasan and Liam Collins have each scored once in previous matches.
With the win, the Bluebirds now have four points on the season, good for fourth place in the Heartland Conference.
“I think this win is a good step for us, moving forward,” Kante said. “We got our first win of the season, so that is out of the way. Now, we’re just trying to go for everything, get to the playoffs and maybe win the championship. That’s the goal for our team.”
Moving forward, CASTL hits the road for a matchup with Demize NPSL in Springfield, Missouri. The game is set to begin at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, June 11.
Photo Credit: Peyton Rives/Club Atletico Saint Louis