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Lions' depth prevails

Men's Soccer

All-American Cornwall's two goals lift depleted Vanguard to conference triumph, its sixth win in its last seven contests.

October 12, 2011|By Barry Faulkner

COSTA MESA — Vanguard University men's soccer coach Randy Dodge said his players did their jobs Wednesday to help the Lions record a 3-0 Golden State Athletic Conference victory over visiting Point Loma Nazarene.

Doing their job has been more difficult than it appeared on Wednesday for the Lions, because those jobs have been changing virtually game-by-game.

Injuries, red-card suspensions and other factors have created a fluid lineup for Dodge, who has had just one player, junior defender Chris Marvin, start all 13 games this season.

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"We haven't put our best 11 players on the field in 13 games," said Dodge, whose team has still managed to post a 9-4 record, 3-1 in conference. The No. 23-ranked Lions sit in third place with nine points (three for a win and one for a tie), behind GSAC co-leaders Concordia (ranked No. 9) and Fresno Pacific (both with 4-0 conference marks).

The Lions have won six of their last seven, due largely to the return to health of junior striker Kevin Cornwall.

Cornwall scored twice Wednesday, including a penalty kick in the 36th minute to break the scoreless tie. The native of Dublin, Ireland who had 16 goals and three assists in 21 games to earn NAIA All-American honors last season, his first at Vanguard after transferring in from the University of San Diego, has notched the game-winning goal in all three conference wins in 2011. He has seven goals in the last six games since rehabilitating a shoulder injury that limited his playing time early.

Cornwall, who has four game-winning goals this season and 12 in his 32-game Vanguard career, missed two games and played only limited minutes in five others, two of which he did not start, Dodge said.

There is crystal clarity regarding Cornwall's job, which is to pepper the net with shots that both dazzle the crowd and confound opposing goalkeepers.

Cornwall just missed on a left-footed bicycle kick early in the contest and his second goal, a bending shot into the upper-right corner from 30 yards in front, would have made David Beckham blush with pride.

"He's one of the best players in the NAIA," Dodge said of Cornwall, who now shares the team goal lead with fellow returning All-American Kyle O'Brien, a junior midfielder, and sophomore midfielder Nikola Ilich. "He's a pure goal scorer. He has three game-winners in our four conference games and in the game we lost, he hit the cross bar twice and missed a one-and-one opportunity, or he would have been four for four."

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