Lawal leads Mather in comeback
Updated: October 15, 2011 7:13PM
Qudus Lawal saw the look and knew it was serious. Playing against Washington for the right to play in the Public League soccer tournament Saturday, the Mather senior star midfielder knew the Minutemen were all business.
Especially after Washington jumped out on top in the 10th minute on Erick Carrasco’s score off a free kick. It was the first time this year Mather trailed in a game against a Public League opponent.
Lawal took matters into his own hand, recording his fourth hat trick of the year to power the top-seeded Rangers to the 4-2 victory in the first semifinal Wednesday night at Lane.
The Rangers (13-3-1) qualified for their first city title appearance since 2008, where they lost to Lane. They will face the Indians, who beat Curie 2-1 in the other semifinal.
“They came out with a lot of determination,” Lawal said. “I think their coaches must have told them just to come out and play like they had nothing to lose. The first 10 minutes or so, they really had us on our heels and they really controlled the match.”
Lawal evened the score on a penalty kick score in the 22nd minute of the first half. Slowly, Mather began to assert its superiority, dominating possession in the opening half and enjoying a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal.
Mather midfielder Kevin Ramirez gave the Rangers a lead they never relinquished when he scored in the seventh minute of the second half. Lawal scored on a spectacular platy in the 13th minute. Running down the left sideline, he avoided the oncoming Washington keeper, hurdled the ball over him and blasting in a close-range shot for the 3-1 advantage.
“I was able to utilize my speed at that point, and I have this shot I do, where I can make the ball come back to me, and that’s what I was able to do,” he said. “Once I saw the keeper come out, that’s what I did.”
Lawal effectively put the game out of reach by drilling a 15-yarder inside the near post. Washington’s Rafael Alarcon ended Lawal’s scoring run with a penalty kick goal for the Minutemen (17-4-1). It was too little, too late.
“I had to convince the kids that Washington was a quality team,” Mather coach Branko Cvijovic said. “We’re the team that everybody plays like it’s a championship game, since we’ve been the favorites for the tournament since Day 1.
“I really to pump up the kids and get them to match Washington’s energy at the start,” he said.
Fortunately, he has the loaded weapon in Lawal.
“This is what I’ve dreamed about,” Lawal said, “this being my last year and playing for the city title.”