COLUMBIA—Columbia College soccer player Marko Paunovic didn't even wait until the ball stopped after a foul call.
In the second minute of the game, Paunovic bent down to stop the ball with his hand after the officials called a foul on Williams Baptist. Before he even stood up, he had passed it to teammate Yudai Yamaguchi.
In one touch, Yamaguchi passed to Jovan Ilic. Ilic quickly got rid of the ball, splitting defenders and catching Paunovic in stride as he headed for the goal.
"I didn't even see him," Ilic said of Paunovic. "I heard him."
Paunovic controlled the ball for about five yards as he closed in on the goalkeeper, then he fired a shot into the back of the net.
The Cougars won the game 6-1. Paunovic's goal was the only score of the first half.
Ilic said he and Paunovic have been talking about their "connection" for a while. Ilic said he knew Paunovic was going to rush the play because he used his hands to stop the ball. When players are not rushing after a foul, they take time and look around, using their feet to place the ball, Ilic said.
"That's kind of a sign, when you have your hand on it, he's probably gonna play it quick," Ilic said. "That's trying to calm the ball down as quickly as you can. I knew that he was gonna play it."
The quick passes by the Cougars gave them the first goal in a competitive first half and allowed them to control the ball throughout the rest of the game.
"Maybe they were, like, sleepy," Paunovic said. "Like they didn't expect us."
The aggressiveness in that play was exactly what Cougars coach John Klein wanted to see. Klein has been frustrated with the team's lack of aggressiveness this season, he said, and he was disappointed when the Cougars failed to add another goal in the first half.
"I really thought we were gonna have a lot of success, and then it's only 1-0 at half," Klein said.
Klein said he stressed urgency at halftime and was pleased with his team's effort in the second half.
"We just consistently went at them," Klein said. "Ultimately their defense wore down, and we were able to get more opportunities."
The Cougars' next game is at 3 p.m. Tuesday in St. Louis against Harris-Stowe State University.