At first it was hard to tell what happened.
After University of Cincinnati sophomore midfielder David Sanz delivered a hard cross that was initially blocked by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis goalkeeper Michael Buck there was a scramble for the loose ball.
The Bearcats and Jaguars bunched together in the box, colliding at the ball for a brief instant.
Finally, UC freshman forward Austin Smythe emerged from the scrum galloping towards the sideline with arms outstretched.
Smythe’s goal, which came in the 62nd minute, proved to be the game-winner for the Bearcats in their 2-1 come from behind victory over IUPUI Friday night.
“I was happy to be in the right spot at the right time and tap it in,” Smythe said.
Trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Bearcats opened the second half much more aggressively by altering their formation to better facilitate up-tempo play.
“I thought we started out very slow,” UC head coach Hylton Dayes said. “We knew we had to change our shape and we had to basically chase the game.”
Usually the Bearcats like to control games by possessing the ball, but a stingy IUPUI team and inclement weather forced them to change to a 4-4-2 formation.
Lingering rain showers from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey soaked the playing field creating dead spots in some places where the ball would stop suddenly after shooting up small water geysers.
Exasperated players on both teams were puzzled by the balls unpredictability in certain corners of the field, causing them to avoid some spaces altogether.
The Bearcats adjustments at halftime payed off in the 55th minute when Sanz sliced a shot from the top of the box into the top right corner of the goal and past the outstretched arms of Buck.
Sanz, who has scored a goal in every game this season, is proving to be the catalyst of the Bearcats offense.
“In the second half when we’re at our best is when David is on the ball leading our press.” Dayes said.
Sanz’s sudden offensive production is due in no small part to the new role he has filled on the team this year.
Last year, Sanz was the team’s defensive midfielder. This year he’s attacking much more—he has three goals this season after notching just one in 2016.
Cincinnati maintained good possession of the ball for the remainder of the match, securing a soggy victory to improve their record to 2-1 this season.
“This is a great way to bounce back considering the elements and we fell behind a goal,” Dayes said. “It shows a young team maturing a little bit and finding different ways to win.”