The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Vaqueros men’s soccer team used a pair of second-half goals to earn a good 2-0 win over the Xavier Musketeers Monday at the UTRGV Soccer and Track & Field Complex.

UTRGV (3-3-0) graduate student forward Bryant Farkarlun and sophomore forward Kgodiso Sukati scored one goal each. Sophomore goalkeeper Alexis Gonzalez made one save against seven shots faced.

Xavier (2-2-1) goalkeeper Jonny Mennell made one save and George Waites put the only shot on goal.

The first half of Monday’s contest was all about defense. It was physical from the first whistle, with the teams combining for 16 fouls, 10 called against Xavier, in the opening frame. There were no shots on goal for either team. Xavier was credited with one shot in the 32nd minute that missed left.

Though Xavier did have more chances than the Vaqueros, it was UTRGV that led in corner kicks after 45 minutes. The Vaqueros earned three consecutive corners in the span of one minute, but the Musketeers defense kept them from cashing in. Xavier’s only corner of the half came in the 35th minute.

Gonzalez and Co. turned in an impressive defensive effort against a speedy Xavier front. Gonzalez stopped a handful of balls in the box, and senior defender Alberto Ontiveros, sophomore midfielder Cade Erickson, among others, stopped the Musketeers from racing into the offensive third. Senior defender Tristan Singh made a nice sliding deflection to clear a promising Xavier pass in the box.

There was a nice change of pace in the second half that put the Vaqueros in control. Farkarlun notched the first UTRGV shot in the 47th minute and was the engine making his team go.

The Musketeers had some chances early, but UTRGV’s defense was aggressive. Senior forward Michael Washington headed away a good ball to prevent Xavier from creating something out of a free kick.

UTRGV broke the tie in the 55th minute. Farkarlun showed off his nifty dribbling skills to get around a defender, resulting in a hard foul in the box that earned the Vaqueros a penalty kick. Sukati lined up and fired a rocket by the diving keeper to give UTRGV the 1-0 lead.

Three minutes later, a perfectly placed high-arching pass from junior midfielder Josue Camacho soared over a defender landed right at Farkarlun’s feet. Farkarlun used a double touch to beat his defender and sink a shot into the goal, making it 2-0 and swinging all the momentum in UTRGV’s favor.

Freshman forward Keaviano Francis recorded a good shot in the 67th minute, but Xavier’s keeper made a great leaping save to keep the lead at two.

Both teams turned up the intensity in the final 20 minutes, the Vaqueros fired up and trying to secure the win and the Musketeers desperate to find he net. Fouls started racking up again as the match returned to its physical nature, with UTRGV getting eight and Xavier called for seven. Both teams were issued a yellow card.

Even with the lead, the Vaqueros continued to race toward the net in the final minutes. Xavier tried to create opportunities, too, but had too many missed connections down the stretch. The Musketeers outshot UTRGV 6-5 in the second half and 7-5 overall, but only put one shot on goal.

UTRGV’s next match will be at 7 p.m. Saturday on the road against Omaha.