The men’s soccer team suffered its first loss of the season last Saturday in a non-conference game against Wheaton College. Wesleyan fell behind 3-0 before finally scoring a goal in the 63rd minute, an unassisted tally from Chris Kafina ’16. Kafina was recently named NESCAC Player of the Week following his two goals and assist in the 3-1 Wes victory over Bowdoin.
Wheaton junior striker Travis Blair burned the Cardinals twice for goals, and sophomore midfielder Noah Kossoff had an assist and a goal of his own. Blair, too, is the reigning Player of the Week for his conference, the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.
Wheaton’s first goal came in the 23rd minute, when a loose ball squibbed to Blair, who then pounded a shot from about 20 yards out into the far corner of the net. Wesleyan had a hard time adjusting to playing from behind on Saturday, mustering an underwhelming two shots, one on goal, in the first half of the match. Their opponents had scored twice before they even managed to fire on target.
Seven minutes after his first goal, Blair struck again. He took a feed from Kossoff and fired a shot into the low corner of the net past Wesleyan keeper Billy Queen ’16. Queen, who was the third goalie on the depth chart last year, was playing his first-ever game in a Wesleyan uniform. He was the third keeper in as many games for the Cardinals, who are testing out who they are going to stick with for the meat of their schedule against NESCAC foes. Queen stopped two of the five Wheaton shots on net.
Wesleyan’s first 45 minutes of the game were lackadaisical. Cardinal play was plagued by miscommunication and a lack of effective passing. Most first half offensive attacks were stymied by the quick Wheaton defenders, and they turned the ball over frequently in the midfield.
The Birds managed to turn their intensity up coming back from the halftime break, outshooting Wheaton 9-4 in the second half. Omar Bravo ’15 had a great chance to cut the deficit to one when, trailing 2-0 in the 48th minute, he caught a pass and sped past Wheaton sweeper on the right side. Bravo had a low angle as he approached the net, but his shot deflected off the outside part of the right post and bounced out of bounds.
Wesleyan maintained the momentum through minute 70, despite allowing a goal in the 50th minute. Wheaton’s Luke Finkelstein fired a cross pass into the box, and out of a scrum emerged Kossoff’s head, redirecting the ball into the net from five yards out. Wesleyan finally earned a goal back in the 63rd minute when a low cross came into the box towards Kafina, who fired it into the net for his third goal of the season.
As time elapsed, Wesleyan’s push slowed. A pair of yellow cards were handed out with three minutes left in the game, when a Wheaton attacker kicked out at a Wesleyan player during a stoppage of play. Hans Erickson ’15 approached the Wheaton attacker, and was accosted by the referee after a heated exchange with the attacker.
Wesleyan played the game without starters Danny Issroff ’15 and Emmett McConnell ’15, who were both sitting out the final game of their two-game suspensions.
Wheaton improved to 5-1 with the result. Meanwhile, the Cardinals, who fell to 2-1 on the season, will look to improve on Saturday’s effort in their first home NESCAC game of the year on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 4:30 p.m. against Tufts.