It didn’t take long for Jeffersonville senior Leo Puentes to make his mark on Tuesday’s home match against rival New Albany.
The forward maneuvered through the Bulldogs’ defense with ease and netted a first-minute goal – on Senior Night, nonetheless – en route to a 3-1 win for the Red Devils.
“My job’s easier when we score in 31 seconds,” Jeffersonville coach Carson Webb said. “I think New Albany came out asleep, and Leo’s a very good goal-scorer. He’s a natural goal-scorer. He scores a lot of goals for us. … That definitely made my job a little easier tonight.”
Jeffersonville (7-4-3, 4-1-1 Hoosier Hills) fired 24 shots in all, including 18 on goal, compared to just three shots on target and nine overall from New Albany (7-5, 2-3). The Bulldogs’ first shot on goal came with 22 minutes remaining.
GALLERY: New Albany at Jeffersonville soccer
For Puentes, his goal – and an assist – fall to the wayside in terms of importance.
“I feel happy, not for my goal, but because we won on my Senior Night,” Puentes said. “That’s the most important thing.”
The Red Devils were the aggressors early, nabbing the early goal and keeping non-stop pressure on New Albany defenders. The Bulldogs couldn’t quite settle in through the first 20 minutes, as Josh Dickman’s side failed to record a shot attempt before Jeffersonville struck again.
In the 25th minute, junior midfielder Ben Walter stole the ball from a New Albany defender and ran a give-and-go with Puentes after he was halted near the box. Walter then gathered, turned and fired a no-doubter off his left foot to give the Red Devils a 2-0 lead.
New Albany, despite increased possession, had its momentum thwarted again with 12 minutes remaining in the first half via a fruitless free kick. Three minutes later, Jeffersonville junior midfielder Kurtis Kimmel capitalized to extend the hosts’ lead to 3-0. Kimmel dribbled into the left corner of the box uncontested, squared himself up and laid in a shot off the far post with his right.
The Bulldogs’ first official shot came in the 25th minute in the form of a free kick that clanked off the crossbar, sealing the halftime score at 3-0.
The second half brought with it some chippy play by the two rivals. New Albany recorded its first shot on goal with 22 minutes left before its aggressive play warranted a penalty kick four minutes later. Freshman forward Schnaider Upchurch netted the PK to cut the Bulldogs’ deficit to 3-1 in the 62nd minute.
“3-0 at halftime,” Webb said, “a lot of times you can fall asleep in the second half, and I think we did – particularly the last 15.”
New Albany, though, could muster no more. Webb preached time of possession at halftime, and the Red Devils responded to close out the rival Bulldogs.
“It’s never easy,” Puentes said. “They always come to play the best, play hard and get the win. But tonight, it was our turn.”
Jeffersonville moves to a meeting at Class 1A No. 2 Providence on Saturday, while New Albany travels to Columbus East. The Bulldogs got a strong performance from Jacob Trulock in goal despite the loss. The senior totaled 15 saves.