Wesleyan Tops WNE as Middlebury Looms Large
With a marquee match-up against the Middlebury Panthers coming up this weekend, the Wesleyan men’s soccer team first had to face off against Western New England University. This non-conference match-up would provide the Cards with a tune-up opportunity prior to their NESCAC showdown, but they still would have to go out and execute.
In the opening half of play, the Cardinal men looked less like a NESCAC contender and more like a mediocre team. They neither outshot their opponents (both teams took four shots) nor had better chances (WNE had one shot on goal while Wesleyan did not test the keeper once). The Cardinals were poised for another disappointing result, but they managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by completely outplaying, outpacing, and generally manhandling their opponents for the entirety of the half.
Though the first half was played evenly, the Cardinals revved into high gear for the second half and left no doubt in anyone’s mind that they were more than deserving of the victory. The lone goal of the contest came in the 52nd minute off of the head of central defender and varsity tri-captain Cabell Maddux ’13. The build-up play beforehand was a short corner by current Wesleyan points leader Danny Issroff ’15 to Brandon Sousa ’16, who curled the ball across the box to Maddux. Wesleyan’s breakthrough was the product of a more aggressive offense; the Cards got off 12 shots in the second half, five of which were on target. They took nine corner kicks to WNE’s two, and in all Wesleyan outshot WNE by a vast 16-6 margin. Tri-captain Adam Purdy ’13 recorded yet another clean sheet by parrying the only shot that managed to find a path to the goal, which preserved the 1-0 win for Wes.
In what will likely prove to be a battle with playoff seeding implications, Wesleyan returns to NESCAC play this Saturday, Sept. 29, against a Middlebury team currently seeded seventh in the ’CAC. Last year, Middlebury was also seeded seventh at the end of the regular season and managed to beat Wesleyan at Jackson Field, which gave the second-seeded Cardinals an early exit from championship contention. Wes will hope to avoid a similar letdown against a perennially strong Panther squad. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m..