Men’s Soccer Has Ups and Downs in Weekend at Home
Wesleyan men’s soccer took to Jackson Field for its first home action of the season this weekend, as the team played host to two NESCAC rivals. Against Tufts on Saturday, the Cardinals discovered that, despite their prodigious experience, talent, and high expectations, nothing should be taken for granted and no team should be underestimated. When the Cardinals faced Hamilton the very next day, they were reminded that when they play to their strengths, defend well, and press on offense, they can control the game against any opponent.
The Tufts teams came to Wesleyan with a chip on its shoulder, eager to avenge the loss to the Cardinals in Medford, Mass. Cardinal tri-captain Rory O’Neill ’13 scored the only goal on Tufts’ turf last year, and the Jumbos were out for revenge. Wesleyan was rewarded as the Cardinals rode to a 2-1 victory.
Both teams displayed attacking prowess in the first half. They played a remarkably even game, as neither team notched a goal and both keepers needed to only turn away two shots to preserve their respective clean sheets.
In the 60th minute, though, everything changed. Tufts forward Franco Silva slotted a shot around Wesleyan keeper Adam Purdy ’13 to give the Jumbos a 1-0 lead. Though the Cardinals continued to press, they broke down on defense just enough for Tufts’ forward Maxime Hoppenot to streak past two defenders and place the ball to the left of Purdy for a 2-0 Tufts lead.
Unfortunately, the Jumbos managed to preserve their lead despite junior Henry Karmin’s first varsity goal. In the 73rd minute, midfielder Matt Hertgen ’15 curled a ball to the edge of the box that Karmin headed on over the charging Tufts keeper. The final 16 minutes passed without a goal despite the best efforts of the Cardinals, as they fell by a score of 2-1.
Hamilton presented less of a challenge than Tufts did, as Wesleyan roared out of the gate to go ahead 1-0 in the 26th minute. Winger Daniel Issroff ’15 collected a pass from Chris Lee ’13 and curled a remarkable strike from 25 yards out just inside the right post. It was the only score of a Wes-dominated first half that saw the Cardinals outshoot the Colonials 11-4. The only shot on goal by the Colonials also came in the first half, as the defense clamped down around the net in the second half. Goalkeeper Purdy essentially had a day off as he recorded his 27th career shutout in Cardinal red and pushed his own team record even higher. Chris Kafina ’16 provided some insurance in the 57th minute by tucking a Karmin pass into the net from up close and allowing Wesleyan to play possession soccer.
The Cardinals remain optimistic that they can still finish among the league leaders despite the setback against Tufts. They are back in action away against Framingham State on Wednesday, Sept. 19, and resume NESCAC play with an away game at Little Three rival Williams on Saturday, Sept. 22.