The Tulsa Roughnecks scored a pair of late goals Saturday afternoon to earn a spirited 2-2 draw with Oklahoma Wesleyan University at Owasso High School Stadium. Kaleemullah was the hero for the Roughnecks scoring both goals to earn the draw.
Kaleem's heroics made the best of what was mostly a lackluster outing for the Roughnecks. The captain of the Pakistan National Team converted a 25-yard free kick in the 90th minute to pull TRFC to within one goal, before converting a penalty moments later to earn the draw with the Eagles.
Photo (left by Brooke Carroll): Kaleem celebrates his game-tying penalty kick.
The game was part of Owasso Soccer Day presented by Hillcrest HealthCare System. It began with a pregame clinic with the Roughnecks players and ended on Kaleem's penalty kick conversion.
After conducting the one-hour clinic for youth players, the Roughnecks began the match flat, conceding an opening goal only two minutes into the contest. Tulsa's defenders were beaten, leaving goalkeeper Alex Mangels with no chance on a softly chipped shot that found the goal.
The Eagles doubled their lead to 2-0 in the 34th minute. The Roughnecks back line was caught pushing forward, and Mangels was again left in a one-on-one situation. The OKWU forward calmly finished the chance, curling a shot into the lower, right corner of Mangels net.
From there, OKWU was determined to protect its lead, while the Roughnecks opened the second 45 minutes with more energy in search of their first goal in over 2 1/2 matches.
It was Cristian Mata causing most of the problems. He set up Sammy Ochoa in the 53rd minute for a chance before taking a left-footed shot himself one minute later. The Wesleyan keeper saved both attempts to keep his shutout intact.
At the other end, Tulsa's second-half goalkeeper, Jake Feener, was left alone in his end of the field for most of the second half.
TRFC Head Coach David Irving turned to his bench at the hour mark, bringing on forward Taylor Morgan and several other trialists.
The speedy Morgan changed the tempo of the match and immediately began to cause problems for the Eagles. In the 66th minute, Kaleem came on as another substitute.
Photo of Taylor Morgan (right) by: Rich Crimi
The Roughnecks nearly got their first goal during a rush in the 80th minute. Attacking from the left side, Morgan hit the near post with a shot before a rebound effort from trialist Carlos Contreras was cleared off the line by a defender.
Tulsa's pressure finally produced a goal in the 90th minute when Wesleyan was called for a foul approximately 25 yards from goal. Kaleem curled a perfectly placed free kick into the upper corner of the goal to make it 2-1.
Ninety seconds later, another foul gave the Roughnecks the opening for the equalizer. As the resulting free kick was sent into the box, a Wesleyan defender was whistled for a headlock on Morgan.
The call enraged the Wesleyan players as several rushed after referee. During the argument, another Roughnecks player was slung to the ground, resulting in a red card.
When order was finally restored, Kaleem set up for the penalty kick. He made no mistake with his effort, beating the keeper to his left with a low, curving shot to level the score at 2-2.
It was the final kick of the match as the referee blew his full-time whistle as the Eagles again rushed after the crew.
The result leaves the Roughnecks with a 2-1-3 record after six preseason matches.
Irving saw good and bad in the performance from his team. “The first 10 minutes, we were not in the game,” he said. “I think we were still doing the clinic. But after that, we pretty much controlled things and missed a lot of chances.”
He added, “We are still missing a couple of players, and we are thin at the back. But, that is what preseason is all about."
“It was a good experience coming up here to Owasso, and it was a great crowd. We had a good time, and it was certainly an exciting finish to the match.”
Last year, Oklahoma Wesleyan defeated the Roughnecks 2-1 in a preseason match.
The Roughnecks are slated to play two more preseason matches. TRFC will travel to Dallas to face SMU on Wednesday morning before closing the preseason by facing NPSL side FC Wichita at ONEOK Field on March 19.
Tulsa will open the USL regular season on Saturday, March 26 when Rio Grande Valley (Houston Dynamo 2) visits ONEOK Field.
Clinic Photo by: Rich Crimi