A two-hour lightning delay was no deterrent for the Southern Miss soccer team, as it took its first win of the season in a 7-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Southern Miss leads the all-time series between the schools with a 6-1 record, outscoring the Warhawks 26-4 in those contests.
“Anytime you get a win at home starting the season it’s a good confidence builder for a young team of freshman and sophomores,” Southern Miss head soccer coach Mohammed El-Zare said. “I thought we played well throughout the game. We did what we had to do. We took our chances when we got them. Really excited for some of the young players that you know were able to get on the field and get some experience and some minutes allowed us to do that.”
At the helm of this blowout win was sophomore Miah Zuazua, who scored two goals and recorded two assists in the win.
“They would step up really high so they gave passing lanes that was pretty visible for everybody to see,” Zuazua said.
Southern Miss jumped to a 3-0 advantage with Zuazua scoring her first goal of the season with an assist by senior Stephanie Garcia. Freshman Rana Hussein and Garcia each found the net before entering a lightning delay in the 38th minute.
“What I’m happy with [Zuazua] is that she is becoming more a complete player,” El-Zare said. “She is starting to play in all moments of the game. You know last year she was only playing on the offensive side. Today she’s planning transition, she’s defending [which] is something that we’ve been working with her.”
After the lightning delay and a shortened halftime, Southern Miss returned its offensive presence quickly.
Sophomore Jenny Caracheo scored off of an assist from Zuazua, which was followed four minutes later by Zuazua’s second goal. Hussein scored again in the 78th minute which was aided by Zuazua’s second assist of the game.
To cap the scoring off was senior Ola Akinniyi, who stole the ball and impressively scored in a one-on-one matchup against the ULM goalie in the 82nd minute. By the end of the match, Southern Miss outshot ULM 30-5.
“We built through the thirds of the field and we created the numerical advantages and in certain areas of the field that allowed us to find always the spare man going forward,” El-Zare said. “The team did a great job with that and then getting positions to shoot and score. What I liked also is if you look at least four of the goals, they’re totally team goals. Where it involves at least four or five players and then in final touch that player has to just tap the ball into the net.”
Southern Miss (1-1) returns to action against Texas Southern at home on Aug. 24 at 4 p.m.