By Kim DeRaedt
Some games have a perfect storyline just waiting to transpire. When Regals FC took the field for Franco Olascoaga’s benefit match, it would appear only appropriate that the team would win. It would seem too fitting that Franco’s younger brother, Paul, would score.
But Regals FC didn’t just win, and Paul Olascoaga didn’t score just any old goal. Indeed, Regals FC trounced visiting Corpus Christi Fuel 11-1 at Woodforest Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Olascoaga’s fifth-minute blast tucked brilliantly under the crossbar for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
Sunday’s match was Regals FC’s chance to pay tribute to a former teammate, and the team didn’t want to waste a single second. Franco Olascoaga passed away on Oct. 7 after he was struck by lightning while coaching youth soccer the previous month. He was just 21 years old.
A moment of silence was observed before the game as friends and family flooded into the stadium to show their support. Once the whistle blew, however, there was nothing quiet about Regals FC’s performance.
Erick Cruz began the offensive spectacle in the second minute when a cross skipped past a sliding Fuel defender and fell at his feet. Cruz calmly slid the ball under Corpus Christi goalkeeper Marco Amador to put his team on top.
“You couldn’t ask for a better start,” said Regals FC coach Miguel Landaverde. “Corpus Christi had five players in the back, and the goal really opened up and exposed them defensively.”
It wouldn’t matter how many players the Fuel stacked behind the ball. Paul Olascoaga was on an unyielding mission. Courtesy of a well-timed through ball by Luis Licerio, Olascoaga found himself rushing in on goal. With the goalkeeper quickly closing him down, Olascoaga struck the ball from 10 yards out, which ricocheted off the crossbar and into the net.
Olascoaga humbly downplayed his goal occurring just minutes into his Regals FC debut.
“Oh that,” Paul said. “The goal was lucky.”
Was it luck, or was it Franco?
Certainly, there seemed to be a special overseer guiding Regals FC’s touch. The team simply couldn?t do wrong.
Giovanni Mastache extended Regals FC’s lead to 3-0, accidentally. Mastache’s 50-yard through ball attempt was too heavy, rolled to the Fuel goalkeeper and somehow between his legs.
After an entertaining opening 10 minutes, fans would have to wait until the 30th minute for Olascoaga to add his name to the score sheet once again. This time he returned the favor to Licerio and slotted him the ball for an effortless 12-yard finish.
Although Regals FC’s 4-0 halftime lead was by no means surprising given the team’s impressive 7-0 victory in its preceding SPSL contest, Corpus Christi’s goal to open the second half made for an interesting variation on the afternoon. Ryan Mohr broke through in the 47th minute with an excellent 18-yard volley that beat Regals FC goalkeeper Joel Recinos.
Still, Regals FC quickly rebounded, and the Fuel simply could not cope with the home side’s speed up top. Cesar Silva chipped in a goal from 20 yards before giving way to the Cruz extravaganza. Cruz racked up four goals in a 10-minute span with a clinical streak that was outright unstoppable.
While a five-goal feat by Cruz is definitely noteworthy, Sunday’s game was all about the Olascoaga family. Regals FC opened its heart and welcomed and supported the Olascoagas, and the generous, grief-stricken family returned the favor. In a post-game gesture, the Olascoagas presented Regals FC administrators with t-shirts designed to carry on the loving memory of their son and brother.
Paul Olascoaga wouldn’t have scripted the day any differently.
“Everything went great,” Olascoaga said. “We got a lot of support, a win and I scored. I played hard just like my brother would have. I’m positive he’s proud.”
Olascoaga smiled and looked up.
“I know he’s up there with a smile on his face. I’m sure of it.”
Regals FC will once again reach out to the Olascoaga family in an encore benefit match scheduled for Oct. 31 against the Houston Dynamo Academy. The match kicks-off at 2:15 p.m. at La Escondida Park in Houston.