The men’s soccer team defeated the Tufts Jumbos 1-0 in overtime on Tuesday, Sept. 17, improving to 3-1 on the season and 2-0 in the NESCAC. Danny Issroff ’15 netted the game-winner 32 seconds into the extra period, breaking 360 minutes and 32 seconds of shutout defense on the season for the Jumbos. Tufts players hadn’t allowed a goal in their opening three games, all of which were wins.
Golden-goal scorer Issroff was pleased with how the team bounced back from what he called a disappointing effort against Wheaton College last Saturday.
“The performance was disjointed,” Issroff said of the loss. “The attitude wasn’t there. The commitment to defend wasn’t there… [But] the fire we didn’t have against Wheaton we did have against Tufts.”
Emmett McConnell ’15 came up with some incredible saves for the Cardinals, stopping all five shots on net. He earned his first career shutout in his second career start. The Cardinals keeper stymied many of Tufts’ offensive chances, most notably blocking a penalty kick 20 minutes into the contest.
Tufts striker Max Hoppenot was awarded the penalty after being shoved hard with the ball five yards from the net. He wound up for his kick and went to his right at knee level. McConnell, who had committed to the same side, dove towards the ball and rebounded it away from the net with his gloved hands.
McConnell is one of three goalies to start for the Cardinals in their four games this year. Issroff was very complimentary of McConnell’s ability to step up when called on.
“Emmett’s been performing really well, and he’s definitely staking his claim as the number one,” Issroff said. “The penalty save yesterday was huge. And the more experience he gets in those big games with those big saves, the better it’s going to be for the team and for his confidence.”
Wesleyan’s defense also highlighted the team’s ability to bend without breaking. Twice, there were loose balls in front of the net that caught McConnell out of position, but each time Wesleyan defenders were able to salvage the situation. The second time, Hoppenot had an open goal in front of him, but Bryan Rice ’15 slid in front of the ball and deflected it to a fellow Cardinal.
With a minute left in regulation, McConnell came up big again, saving a free kick from a foot outside the 18-yard line that deflected off the blocking line of Wesleyan defenders. He grabbed the ball out of the air and managed to keep the ball from crossing the goal line as his momentum sent him stumbling backward into the net.
For the last time this season, Wesleyan was playing without a handful of starters due to a series of suspensions. The Cardinals were missing starters Omar Bravo ’15, Ben Bratt ’15, Spencer Tanaka ’15, and Henry Karmin ’14.
Both teams showed their fatigue late in the game. Issroff added how much the suspensions hurt the team at the end of fast-paced games like this one.
“Numbers-wise, it was tough,” he said. “It would have been nice to have some extra legs on the field going into the overtime.”
Nonetheless, they saw that their elephantine opponents were plagued by fatigue worse than they were.
“We talked a little bit about how Tufts was tiring,” Issroff said. “There was a real chance for us to come out and snatch something.”
The only goal of the game started after Tufts sat on the ball in the opponent’s end to open the period. The Cardinals sent their attackers to strike at the ball, and Matt Lynch ’15 won a 50-50 tackle to Dylan Hoy ’17. Hoy dropped the ball to Issroff on the left side. Issroff, who was second on the team in points last year, didn’t like his first touch on the ball.
“It wasn’t actually a good touch, but luckily, the second one was nice,” Issroff commented.
The first touch created just enough space for Issroff to flick his next touch up to himself over his head as he turned, and he took the shot. The ball cleared the keeper by a wide margin as it sailed into the far corner of the net. It was Issroff’s first goal of the year.
Wesleyan will next play Bates, who is 1-1-1 this season and 0-1-1 in NESCAC play. The game will be home, on Snyder Field, this Saturday at 1:30 p.m.