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RSU Defeats NSU in Home Opener. Let’s Go, Hillcats!

The Rogers State men’s soccer team defeated in-state conference rival Northeastern State 4-1 at Soldier Field Monday night in Great American Conference play.

Four Hillcats (2-0-0, 2-0-0 GAC) scored in the home opener over the RiverHawks (1-1-0, 1-1-0 GAC) in the largest victory in the series history between the two programs.

How it happened: Rogers State struck early, with opening goal coming in the second minute of the game. After a foul in the left corner outside of the penalty area, Callum Hubble whipped in a free kick and Jaime Ponce connected with it and put it past the RiverHawks keeper and into the net for the opening goal of the game and his first career goal as a Hillcat.

The RiverHawks would respond with a goal of their own in the 19th minute, as James Doyle took a cross from the wing and fired a shot into the lower right corner that snuck in the past keeper Dillon Dean.

Jaxon Pitt would respond four minutes later with his first goal of the season as he fired a shot in from a tight angle outside the box and tucked it into the top left corner. It was Pitt’s 13th career goal, as he moved into the top 10 in all-time scoring for Rogers State, sitting in a four-way tie for ninth.

The Hillcats kept pressuring Northeastern State as Luke Morgan and Pitt had several close misses in the remainder of the half.

Rogers State would go into the break with a 2-1 advantage over Northeastern State. The Hillcats would outshoot Northeastern State 8-to-3 in the first half, with both teams recording two shots on goal.

Jesus Ramirez narrowly missed putting the Hillcats ahead 3-1 just minutes into the second half as he connected on a cross from Jordan Watson and sailed it just over the cross bar.

In the 67th minute, Watson would get the insurance goal, as he won a free kick about 23 yards out and then wrapped the free kick around the wall into the lower right corner for his first goal of the season.

Three minutes later, Jesus Ramirez would score from near the penalty spot as he settled a cross from Sebastian Hernandez, and tucked I into the lower right corner with a left-footed strike.

Rogers State would dominate play for most of the half as Northeastern State could not generate any high quality scoring chances in the second half.

Notes from the Game: Rogers State set a season-high four goals in the game, with two goals coming in each half.

Ramirez, who had not scored in his first three seasons for the navy and red, has now scored in each of the first two games this season.

Dean finished the game with three saves in a little over 82 minutes of action. Freshman Blake Classen made his debut for the Hillcats in goal, playing the final 7:33, making one save.

In total, five Hillcats made their debut for the navy and red in the game.

The Hillcats would outshoot the RiverHawks 18-to-7, with six of the shots being on goal to the five RiverHawks shots on goal.

Rogers State’s three-goal victory is the largest in the history of the series, with the previous coming twice last season when the Hillcats defeated the RiverHawks 2-0 in Tahlequah and in Hays, Kansas in the GAC Tournament.

The Hillcats have now defeated Northeastern State in four-straight games in the series after going 0-2-1 against the RiverHawks in the first three meetings all time.

Up Next: Rogers State is set to be back in action on Saturday, as the Hillcats take on Ouachita Baptist on March 13 in Arkadelphia, Arkansas for the second of three road games this season. The Hillcats and the Tigers are slated for a 3 p.m. kickoff in the eighth meeting all time between the two programs. Rogers State holds a 5-2 record overall in the series.

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