Costa Mesa, Calif. --- Ranked No. 4 in the NAIA preseason ratings, the highest start in school history, the Vanguard Lions opened the 2011 season this evening against the La Sierra Golden Eagles. LSU, a nonconference NAIA opponent, scored two second-half goals to pull off a 2-1 come-from-behind win and hand the Lions a disappointing season-opening loss.
Vanguard jumped out quickly to a 1-0 lead in the non-conference contest as senior William Pellow converted a goal for the Lions following a corner kick play just 3:13 into the game. Unfortunately, the Lions, who out-shot the Golden Eagles 9-3 in the first half, could not capitalize on any other scoring attempts in the first period and trotted into the halftime break still holding the one-goal advantage.
La Sierra charged out of halftime and made the most of a free kick opportunity with Diego Fontes drilling the game-tying goal into the upper left corner of Vanguard's net, only 3:33 into the second half. The score remained knotted until the 88th minute, although LSU hit the post once and VU had one goal disqualified for a handball call. Finally, after out-shooting the Lions 10-5 in the second half, La Sierra struck gold with just 1:32 to play. Jonas Ornelas was the hero for the Golden Eagles as he scored from the top of the box off an assist from Anthony Trevino.
Moving into desperation mode in the final 90 seconds of play, the Lions were unable to break through the LSU defense and fell 2-1 in both teams' season-opener.
VU's senior goalkeeper Cody Adams registered two saves against four shots on goal by LSU, while Gabriel Esqueda notched three saves in goal for the visitors.
Vanguard (0-1) continues the new season on Friday with another nonconference home game as the Lions host Ashford University of Iowa. Game time is set for 6:00 p.m. Go Lions !