By Ernest Stone
Usually a soccer team doesn’t establish its identity until the latter stages of the season.
Gateway isn’t one of those teams, as its 2-0 victory over Urban at Franklin Park on Thursday all but confirmed its status as a run-and-gun offensive powerhouse.
“On their throw-ins, they don’t focus on keeping possession,” Urban head coach Antony Reyes told his team during a break. “They always end up starting a fast break.”
The Gators (3-1) created scoring opportunities in the first half, but failed to capitalize due in part to a stellar effort from Blues senior goalkeeper Gabe Howden.
“My goalie coach is always on my case when I do things wrong,” Howden said. “Plus, I see a lot of action in practice, so the speed of the game didn’t affect me.”
Urban (0-1) was able to run with Gateway for all but three minutes, a span in which senior forward Fauris Franco scored the game’s only two goals.
With his 60th- and 63rd-minute strikes, Franco, who began the season as a goalie, has amassed six goals in three games.
“There are a few games I may call on him to be our goalie,” said Gateway head coach Joe Killmaier. “But I mean, the kid is a striker, no doubt.”
While Franco’s goal total may rival that of the entire team’s, Gateway has seen a variety of options score en route to tallying 16 goals this season.
One of those options, senior midfielder Ricardo Calderon, followed a two-goal effort against Bentley with four shots on goal in Thursday’s contest.
“We just love to push the ball,” Calderon said. “If I can’t do something, I’ll just send it down to Fauris and he will score.”
Such proved to be the case, as Urban had the answers for all but a smidgeon of the game.
The Blues will look to play a full 80 minutes and score their first goal of the season against Valley Christian of Dublin next week.
As for the Gators, their high-powered offense will be tested in their Bay Counties League opener against International on Tuesday.
“I haven’t gotten a chance to see them this year,” Killmaier said of International, who beat Leadership 4-0 on Thursday. “But they are rarely anything but solid.”