Spartans win a shootout against Denham Springs

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Brandon Shanklin (right) scored one of East Ascension's goals in their 4-3 victory over Denham Springs. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

East Ascension's versatility has been evident through their first three games.

In a huge victory over Mandeville, they showed they could win in a grind-it-out defensive battle as they took that contest, 1-0. And in Tuesday night's home matchup with Denham Springs, they showed that they could win in a high-paced shootout.

The Spartans fell down 1-0, but their offense responded early and often in what became a 4-3 victory.

"Any time the other team scores a goal like that, I feel like it gives us a better game," East Ascension head coach Michael Zanco said. "We've had trouble getting goals until we've gone down. So, to have a goal early on, it kind of pushed us onward and made us want it more. It woke us up."

Twenty-one minutes in, Denham Springs' William Chevalier got off a clean shot that was saved by Spartan goalkeeper Cameron Crehan.

But just four minutes later, Chevalier was back at the net, and this time, he knocked one through to put the Yellow Jackets up 1-0.

The lead only lasted three minutes.

The Spartans tied things up with a header by EJ Morales.

Morales had another opportunity at a scoring a header late in the first half, but he couldn't get it to go, so the game remained tied at the break.

In the second half, Erick Moyron Ponce took over for East Ascension.

With the game still tied, Ponce dropped a great pass over the top for Luis Guadiana. Guadiana finished at the net to give the Spartans their first lead at the 57th minute.

Repeating the trend of the first half, their advantage didn't last long.

Just seven minutes later, Crehan tried to charge forward and clear the ball out with his feet, but he missed. The ball bounced to Jose Ortega, who had a wide open goal in front of him.

His shot tied the game.

A little more than a minute later, Ponce went back on the attack. He maneuvered through three Denham Springs defenders and sent a hot shot past the Yellow Jacket goalkeeper from 12 yards out to regain the lead for East Ascension.

Later, the Spartans were able to create some breathing room after a big mistake by Denham Springs.

A handball gave East Ascension a penalty kick, and Brandon Shanklin came through with the goal.

The Yellow Jackets scored late, but they simply ran out of time. The Spartans were able to hold on to the 4-3 victory.

"We know what we've got. We have three really strong players up top, so we pack it together in the back and work to get it to those guys at the top," Zanco said. "I trust the three of them versus five, or even six. They'll get a goal every now and then."

The game was even in many aspects. Denham Springs out-shot the Spartans by a slim 14-13 margin, and each goalkeeper had four saves.

"This team is the hardest working group I've had in a long time. I'll be honest, they're not the most technical team. They're not the most tactical team, but they work their butts off," Zanco said.

The victory kept East Ascension undefeated for the season. After tying Live Oak in the opener, they've now won two straight.

Zanco said that he loves how his team has opened 2017-18.

"We're doing a good job of bypassing us having the ball too long," Zanco said. "I feel like in high-school, whichever team has the ball too long, they make mistakes. You're going to get mistakes from these boys. So, if we can avoid the mistakes in the back, stay organized and get it up top, we can be good."