By John Niswander
Elm Staff Writer
In their home opener this past week, WC men’s soccer lost a hard-fought, physical battle under the lights at Roy Kirby Jr. Stadium 1-0 in a nonconference game against St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
At the start of the game, both teams were struggling to maintain possession of the ball and record a shot. The first shot of the game came from the visiting Seahawks in the 15th minute and WC recorded their first shot shortly after in the 18th minute. With both teams frustrating the other, more fouls were whistled than shots on goal in the first half.
Coach Roy Dunshee was pleased with how his team was defending early on and disrupting the Seahawks attacks.
“We defended very well. Specifically, we were able to press very high up the field and make things difficult for St. Mary’s. They are a very good team and they love to pass the ball around very efficiently. We never let them settle into a rhythm and our fitness showed as we put them under pressure relentlessly,” he said.
Unfortunately, WC’s pressure let up for one minute toward the end of the first half and St. Mary’s scored what ended up being the decisive goal.
WC had their best chance to even the score early in the second half as junior Skylar Clark beat his defender and saw his shot saved by a diving St. Mary’s goalkeeper to keep WC off the scoreboard. Although WC failed to record a goal, Coach Dunshee was satisfied that the opportunities to tie the game were there for his guys.
“We had a lot of set piece opportunities and should have finished at least one of them. We are working on executing better and taking advantage of our size in those situations,”he said.
Following the loss, WC fell by a score of 2-1 in their first game of the Delmarva Cup as hosts against the visiting Hampton-Sydney Tigers in a non-conference game.
After the first half of play, WC held an 8-2 advantage in total shots and had generated seven corner kicks compared to none for the visiting Tigers. WC nearly netted a goal twice in the first half, but saw Cole Strong’s header go just over the top of the crossbar and Chris Lewandowski’s shot knocked away by a sprawling goalkeeper to preserve the scoreless game at halftime. Senior Dimitri Kaliakin was pleased with the chances WC was generating.
“I thought we did a good job of pressuring the other team and creating some decent chances, but we just couldn’t finish enough of the chances to win the game.” he said.
In the second half, the visiting Tigers capitalized on a header from their leading goal scorer on the season, William Jackson. WC was generating constant pressure and a goal felt imminent. With just under 13 minutes remaining, freshman Griffin Bull ripped a free kick from 30 yards out that found its way into the upper left corner, just past a sprawling goalie left in utter disbelief. Coach Dunshee was impressed because this was not a play that was practiced prior to the game.
“That goal was all Griffin. We have not even practiced that as a team. But he has obviously worked to develop that skill and he really delivered a stunning strike.”
This was Bull’s first collegiate goal and the first goal scored at home for WC this season.
With just under seven minutes however, the visitors broke the tie score, as a rebound off a WC defender saw Jackson net his second goal of the game. This proved to be the game winner and decisive goal for the visiting Tigers who now remain undefeated on the season at 3-0.
The Shoremen, who dropped to 1-2 with the loss, had to rebound quickly as they hosted Randolph-Macon the very next day. Kaliakin believes defense and minimizing mistakes will be crucial in order to secure the first home win of the season.
“To get the first home win of the season, we need to be tight defensively the whole game and avoid mistakes. We need to finish our chances to try and get an early lead.”
A postgame interview by The Elm Sports Network can be watched on The Elm’s YouTube page,‘TheElmNewspaper’.