By John Niswander
Elm Staff Writer
The Shoremen began the week with a 1-0 non-conference loss at Eastern Shore rival Salisbury. The men’s soccer team then prevailed after losing four games in a row by defeating Dickinson College in their Centennial Conference opener.
Salisbury was able to break a scoreless tie game by connecting on a curling shot from 35 yards out. This was also the first shot on goal recorded in the game. The Shoremen had their best chances to even the score before halftime from two separate free kicks both by Dimitri Kaliakin.
The first was loose in front of the goal and had to be kicked away by a Salisbury defender to prevent the Shoremen from evening up the score. The second free kick from Kaliakin was deflected off the Salisbury goaltender’s hands just enough to hit the post and be picked up before crossing the line as a goal.
After the first half, WC was outshooting Salisbury 6-3, but the shot advantage was not enough to also gain the lead on the scoreboard. Despite WC outshooting Salisbury 13-9 at the end of the game, they once again fell short on the scoreboard dropping their fourth straight game.
Kaliakin knows this team is better than the record may reflect this early in the season.
“The first five games have been difficult for us because we know we are better than our record shows. That being said, we have played some pretty good teams.”
Head Coach Roy Dunshee is pleased with how his team is playing heading into the Centennial Conference opener vs. Dickinson.
“In spite of our poor results, we all feel that we are playing well. I was really pleased with our effort against Salisbury. We threatened their goal frequently and created lots of scoring opportunities, but have not been efficient in front of the goal. I have every confidence that the goals will come and we will keep working to ensure that happens. Conference play opens on Saturday and we have the chance to start a new phase of the season.”
WC began Centennial Conference play with a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over visiting Dickinson in front of a packed WC crowd at Roy Kirby, Jr. Stadium.
For the first time since the season opener, WC was able to score before their opponent. As they have all season, WC was generating an abundance of early opportunities to score and pressuring Dickinson. The pressure and pursuit paid off when in the 28th minute, Cole Strong scored from 20 yards out to give the Shoremen a lead in a game for the first time since the season opener.
The Shoremen looked to maintain the advantage and close out the game with a win to begin conference play. However, in the 67th minute Dickinson executed a header off their first corner kick of the game to even the score at 1-1.
After neither team could break the tie, the game was headed to overtime. This was the first overtime game of the year for WC and second for Dickinson. Only one shot was taken in overtime, and it was the game winner as freshman Griffin Bull ripped a free kick from 30 yards out into the upper left corner to win the game. The team dogpiled the freshman and celebrated a much needed win to end a four game losing streak. This was Bull’s second collegiate goal, both having come off of free kicks.
“It felt even better than the last one did against Hampton-Sydney. Words can’t describe how I felt after taking the shot and it hitting the back of the net.” Bull said. “Being that Dickinson was a very tough team in prior years, being the one to seal the win for the Shoremen was well deserved after what I thought was a good game of soccer from us.”
Kaliakin commented on how clutch the freshman has been and how he has been able to make an immediate impact on offense.
“Bull’s free kicks have been so and having his ability on the dead ball gives us another facet of attack that will help us.”
According to Bull, Coach Dunshee gave him the greenlight to go for goal on the free kick and seal the victory.
“The plan was to shoot all along. I talked to Coach Dunshee, and he said ‘get a free kick from 25 yards out and win the game.’ It’s just funny how that worked out perfectly.”
This was the first time since 2006 that WC won their Centennial Conference opener, and the first time since 2006 they defeated Dickinson. Kaliakin was pleased to be able to beat them his last season here at WC.
“Winning the first conference game is huge and as a senior it feels great to beat Dickinson for our first time since us seniors have been here.”
Senior Brian Wilkinson has high hopes for his team in conference play as they opened this crucial part of the schedule with a win.
“For this team, I believe we have the talent and depth to make it into the conference tournament and shock some people this year.”
The Shoremen will be back in action Saturday, Sept. 24 when they travel to Franklin & Marshall for another Centennial Conference matchup.