PEMBROKE — Throughout the first few weeks of the season, Scotland coach Danny Gallagher said his team just needed to learn from its mistakes by the time the games that really matter — conference showdowns — begin.
The Scots took his advice on Wednesday, putting 4 points up to Purnell Swett’s 0 and picking up their first victory of the year in the year’s first Southeastern Conference soccer match.
Scotland (1-5) won its first game in dominating fashion over Swett, scoring three second-half goals despite being a man down.
Trailing 1-0, it looked like the Rams had an opening to get back into the game when the Scots saw a player dismissed for picking up his second yellow card of the game with eight seconds left in the first half. However, the second half went much like the first. Scotland did not drop back into defense after losing a player, instead pressing the attack and earning itself several corners.
Kytel Collins-Jackson scored early in the second half to put the Scots up 2-0, and Brandon Beckwith put the game away with his strike that came with 15 minutes to play. Andrew Locklear added a fourth for the Scots on a headed ball that went into the top corner of the goal.
The Scots controlled possession from the opening whistle Wednesday evening and created chance after chance. The first breakthrough came 13 minutes into the game when Scotland was awarded a penalty for a foul on the outside of the box. Afiz Lateef stepped up to spot and slotted it home for the first goal.
Gallagher said getting on the board first was a confidence-booster for his side.
“We’ve been picking up momentum,” Gallagher said. “We just got the ball in the net first tonight and that makes a huge difference for you.”
The majority of Swett’s chances came from free kicks, including one in the first half that hit the crossbar before landing just outside the goal. Joseph Velasquez threatened all night with his speed, but Daniel Johnson was able to run down the striker whenever he would break away.
Gallagher said having Johnson play back has strengthened the defense.
“He’s outstanding back there. He organizes us and keeps us in line. It’s kind of new role for him as the clean up guy, but he’s really running the defense well,” Gallagher said.
Swett coach Alaric Strickland said Scotland’s experience made the difference on the scoreboard.
“It’s conference play now. We’ve struggled in the past in conference play and these kids have a little more experience then us,” Strickland said.
After the match, Scotland midfielder John Covington said it felt great to leave Pembroke with a victory.
“It’s a big relief,” he said.
Scotland will return home to take on Pinecrest Sept. 16.