By Dale Miller
For the first 25 minutes, it seemed like Grand Island Senior High’s shots found every conceivable way to not go into the net.
But the Islanders’ fortunes changed, highlighted by a 70-yard score.
In the end, Grand Island escaped Memorial Stadium Monday with a 5-3 win over Lincoln High that seemed to have a little bit of everything.
“There were some real positives and some real negatives,” G.I. coach Jeremy Jensen said.
The negatives started early on when the Links (3-5) took the lead at 4:29 when Christopher Izaguirre curled a corner kick into the goal.
“We talk about staying on our posts, and there was a guy who was unmarked,” Jensen said. “So (defender) Abdul (Juma) came off the post and (Izaguirre) just bent it in.”
The Islanders (5-3) are comfortable feeling that they are going to score goals, Jensen said, but they might have been wondering during the first 25 minutes.
Shots ended up going off the post or off the crossbar, and a header from point-blank range sailed high.
Immediately after a few of those missed opportunities, Moises Jacobo broke through by heading in a cross from Javi Baide at 27:04.
“Just going through the pregame, going through the warm-up stuff, it just really felt like the boys were disinterested,” Jensen said. “I kind of addressed that when we came out, and it was still pretty lethargic to begin with.
“Then we just kind of gradually built up into it. Unfortunately, all that talent that they have inside them, they think the game is going to last all day. The clock starts ticking and then the pressure builds in a little bit.”
It didn’t take long for the Islanders to take the lead after tying the game up. Just 54 seconds after Jacobo scored, Baide broke away from a pair of defenders and finished.
The freshman struck again after halftime to make it 3-1 at 50:32 when a pass from Najib Omar broke him into the open. His shot hit the bottom of the right post, but this time the bounce went Grand Island’s way.
The bounce really broke for the Islanders 35 seconds later when defender Roi Martin scored from 70 yards out.
“The goalkeeper was out,” Jensen said. “Roi just played one – truthfully it was a clearance. He was just trying to get the ball out so we could get everybody reset. It was a little bit of a breeze and a bounce along with some poor judgment from the goalkeeper. It bounced over the top of his head.
“So Roi will remember the time he scored from 70. I’m not sure it will necessarily end up on SportsCenter Top 10.”
Grand Island’s 4-1 lead looked comfortable at that point, but that changed after Izaguirre scored his second 2:01 after Martin’s long goal. The Links closed within one on an own goal deflection at 71:06.
“It was a little bit of complacency,” Jensen said. “It was 4-1 there, and great teams don’t allow teams to get back to 4-3. We’re a good team right now, but in order to be a great team we should turn it into 6-1.”
But Jacobo was there on the backside of an Ernesto Gamez corner kick to finish and give the Islanders an insurance goal at 75:29.
“Mo’s creativity is terrific,” Jensen said. “He’s definitely one of the top four or five players in the state.”
But the Islanders missed winger Marc Ulloa, who suffered an injury during last week’s win at Lincoln East.
To try to help build depth, goalkeeper Juan Castro was replaced by Bryant Bedolla for the second half and moved into the field.
“Juan’s been a field player his entire life before this year,” Jensen said. “Getting him out there and playing a little bit provides us with a little depth in the field spots. He did OK. I know he’s breathing a little heavy right now.”
The Islanders now hit the road for their final five regular-season matches, including contests next week at Class A No. 1-rated Kearney and No. 6 Lincoln Southwest.
Jensen said the goal is to play well and earn another appearance at home for the district tournament.