Chisom Ogbonna netted the first hat trick in AFC Mobile history to lead the Azaleas to a 3-1 win over Cajun Soccer Club of Lafayette, Louisiana.
“We knew after losing our first home game we had to pick up some points somewhere, so this was a big win for us to pick up those three points we lost at home,” AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas said. “Hopefully from here on out we’ll keep on accumulating points because we want to be in one of those playoff spots.”
The Azaleas opened the game with an early chance from Erik Aispuro. Ogbonna played the ball to Aispuro on the right wing, but his shot sailed over the crossbar. The pair would link up for the game’s first goal. Aispuro played the ball into Ogbonna who scored his first goal of the night from close range.
Ten minutes later, Ogbonna doubled his tally. After winning a crushing tackle in the midfield, Iba Ndaw boomed down the left flank and played the ball across the face off goal that was cooley slotted home by the leading goal scorer in club history.
Mobile’s 2-0 lead would not last for long. In the 28th minute, center-back Guillermo Lumbreras, Jr. brought down a Cajun player just outside of the penalty box. Lumbreras was shown a yellow card, the first of six for the Azaleas on the night. A minute later a Cajun free kick ricocheted off the crossbar. Mobile was unable to clear the lose ball and Cajun’s Berkley Laviere put the ball in the back of the net for the home team, bringing the score to 2-1.
Despite conseding that lone goal, Nicholas said the Azaleas did a much better job of defending this week after letting in four goals against Pensacola FC last weekend in Mobile.
“We still need to work on it. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a defensive problem, it’s kind of a team defending thing we need to work on. Tracking runners from the midfield and other places a little bit quicker,” Nicholas said. “But we did give up a few chances…and tonight we’re lucky that Cajun didn’t finish all the chances they had, but neither did we.”
Late in the first half Lumbreras took a hard knock and was replaced by Duck Vu, who made his AFC Mobile debut. Last season Vu was an Honorable Mention All-Conference player for Biloxi City FC (now rebranded as Port City FC).
Both teams would have one more solid chance before the end of the first half. A shot from Iba Ndaw was parried out for an AFC Mobile corner, but the ball was easily handled by Cajun.
In stoppage time, KC Espoir was shown yellow outside the box. Cajun’s rocket of a free kick rattled off the crossbar and was cleared by Iba Ndaw.
Ogbonna nearly completed his hat trick early in the second half, but his shot went just wide of the net.
Cajun almost equalized in the 64th minute when a nice ball found its way through the Mobile backline and was collected by keeper Barou Ndaw. Saturday’s match marked the first time that brothers Barou and Iba Ndaw shared the pitch in an AFC Mobile match.
Ogbonna did complete his hat trick in the 84th minute to kill off the game. Ogbonna finished a great ball from another player making his AFC Mobile debut, Donte Oliver. Oliver was an All-Eastern Conference player for Biloxi City FC last season.
AFC Mobile will travel to Gulfport, Mississippi, to take on Port City FC in the first leg of the “Forgotten Coast Cup.” Kickoff is May 26th at 7 p.m. at Herbert Wilson Stadium. The Azaleas will once again be reserving a bus for supporters wishing to make the trip. Don’t miss the match that Non League America calls “The Realest Rivalry in American Soccer.” For more details on how you can ride the fan bus, visit www.afcmobile.net.
AFC Mobile will return to The Lip in two weeks to take on GCPL newcomers Real United FC Riverhawks. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 2 at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are only $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.