Crowd of 2,258 Sees Lubbock Matadors Make History in 2-1 U.S. Open Cup Win

By Ty Kaplan/NPSL.com

One-by-one posters rose from the Mozos section, a Lubbock Matadors non-profit fan club, to spell out the phrase “Leave A Legacy”.  The saying originated from Lubbock Matadors’ head coach Paul Gilbert’s statement prior to the club’s first appearance in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. 

A fourth-tier soccer club still fresh off its inception in 2021, the Lubbock Matadors braved new territory as it defeated Arizona Monsoon FC 2-1 on Thursday night at Lubbock Christian University with a 119th minute game-winner to advance in the tournament. 

“I told the guys in our pregame that I felt like we already left a legacy,” Gilbert said. “But tonight was about making history, and we made history tonight.”

For Gilbert’s squad, the victory came selflessly.  Comprised of athletes from all different backgrounds and being granted a mere three days to build a foundation for his side, Gilbert said his main focus in the short time span was teaching his players the value and meaning of the Lubbock fans. 

“Something that was really important to our group was letting the new guys know how much this club means to the city,” Gilbert said. “I wanted them to feel it, and I think they got that here tonight.”

Early on the Matadors found themselves in a hole with the Monsoons connecting on a 37th minute outside-the-box shot that found the top corner of the goal seamlessly.  Morale on the pitch continued to dwindle as the first half of extra time came to a close with the score evened at 1-1, but midfielder Lucca Motta said the late burst of energy from the Mozos helped him gain momentum to set up the game-winner. 

“It’s very important to feel the support from them, especially in a game like this,” Motta said. “Every play, every moment in the game that you can hear that people are screaming for you, it’s very important and it’s very impactful.  It’s good to feel like people care about your team and they care that you win.”

Motta’s assist to midfielder Toufik Najem would put the bow on a historical night in the Hub City, a night that Lubbock Matadors general manager Dustin McCorkle said was a product of what the city of Lubbock can accomplish when it comes together.

“When you think of Lubbock, Texas, you think of a fighter,” McCorkle said. “West Texas is all about the grit and the fight and you saw people proud to represent the badge tonight.  We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the city. The fans, as you can see tonight, the support that they’re giving, they are our 12th man.”

 

Photo Credit: Jacob Lujan/NPSL.com

 

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