With its first conference victory officially in the bag, men’s soccer was determined to push through to victory in its first non-NESCAC game of the year. Wesleyan has a long and eventful history with Springfield College that stretches all the way back to 1926. The Cardinals received little opposition this time around, managing to roundly defeat Springfield in a convincing 4-0 fashion.
From the very beginning Wesleyan dominated the game play and got on the board early. Tri-captain Rory O’Neill ’13 slotted a penalty kick into the left corner, and Wesleyan had a 1-0 lead just 16 minutes in. The Cardinals widened the gap to 2-0 on a corner kick in the 35th minute. O’Neill again took the shoot and smashed it into the left-hand side. Wesleyan played out the rest of the first half without another goal, but the story at halftime was one of utter dominance. The Cardinals had taken 12 shots to Springfield’s one.
The story only got worse for Springfield in the second half. Daniel Issroff ’15, who contributed a goal and an assist in the previous game, managed another assist in this contest. In the 63rd minute, Issroff possessed the ball on the right and centered it into the box, where forward Evan Hazelett ’13 sent home his first tally of the year. While they could have rested and pulled back to defense at this point, the Cardinals continued to push the margin higher. Two mintues later, a long free kick by Brandon Sousa ’16 found fellow freshman Chris Kafina’s head in the box. It was both Kafina’s first goal and Sousa’s first assist in only their second game as Cardinals. With a 4-0 lead, Wesleyan pulled starting goalkeeper and tri-captain Adam Purdy ’13 in the 80th minute, which allowed Emmett McConnell ’15 his first varsity field time in Cardinal red.
If their play last year was any indication, these will not be the only goals of the year for O’Neill and Hazelett. Both were offensive juggernauts in the past and will likely score in bunches in their final year. Hopefully the same can be said of youngsters Issroff, Kafina, and Sousa.
This win means many things for the Cardinals as they go forward with their season. First, it proves that they will not play down to opponents and will press the issue even in instances of near-obvious skill discrepancies. This is relevant only because the team two years ago had the tendency to play to the opponent’s skill level and only managed to go 8-8 despite a talented roster. Beating Springfield in such a blowout should put to rest any lingering doubts that the Cardinals are not deadly serious about their chances at a NESCAC championship.
This weekend will be an important one toward figuring out where the Cardinals truly stand in the conference hierarchy. They will face both Tufts and Hamilton at home on Saturday, Sept. 15 and Sunday, Sept. 16, respectively. Last year, Tufts finished 5th in the conference, while Hamilton just missed out on playoff soccer in 9th place. Though neither game should be easy, both should be winnable for a Wesleyan team that looks to be one of the strongest in the conference.