The men’s soccer team kicked off the year with a well-earned 1-0 victory over Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) on Tuesday, Sept. 2. Striker Adam Cowie-Haskell ’18 put the Cardinals ahead in the 75th minute while the defenseman and goalkeeper Emmett McConnell ’15 kept the Warriors shut out for all 90 minutes.
Matt Lynch ’15, who helped keep the pressure on the ECSU defense with a close shot on goal in the first half, reflected on his team’s strong start to the season despite the oppressive 89-degree heat and high humidity.
“We’re starting off another season with yet another first game win, so there isn’t much more we can ask of ourselves in terms of a result,” Lynch wrote in an email to The Argus. “The conditions were a bit hot and muggy, but since we have such a deep squad full of talented players in each class, we were able to cycle in a lot of fresh players throughout the game. First-year players like Cowie-Haskell, Garrett [Hardesty], Gabe [Tagliamonte] and Nick [Jackson] were vital in our success. They were all very eager to play in their first game, and they brought a level of excitement that the rest of [the] team fed off of. Also, there were three instances where ECSU players were cramping up on the field. This game was an indicator of [our] team’s fitness.”
As a forward himself, Lynch witnessed and participated in an active offense that posed significant threats to ECSU, as evidenced by Wesleyan’s nine total shots on goal and multiple scoring opportunities.
“We did a good job of exhibiting patience in our attack,” he said. “[Brandon] Sousa [’16] and [Daniel Issroff ’15] made smart decisions and didn’t force many killer passes, and Omar [Bravo ’15] and [Chris] Kafina [’16] excellently exploited their outside backs.”
Though the squad was successful in the end, Lynch noted that there was still room for improvement.
“When opportunities presented themselves, however, to get forward and score, I think we could have done a better job of finishing the play,” Lynch wrote. “For example, [Hardesty] and I linked up nicely in the first half. He played a beautiful pass to my diagonal run across the center backs. I had a good touch in the box, but my shot was a tad wide. A large emphasis of practices during the beginning of this season has been creating better chances on goal. We just needed one player to step up and score.”
Lynch noted that by the second half, Cowie-Haskell came through with just that.
“[He] showed his leadership and his desire to score as he netted the game winner in the second half,” Lynch wrote.
In discussing his role on the team, Lynch stressed the importance of every player’s ability to step up, as well as the necessity for such leaders to rise from all parts of the roster.
“I believe my role, similarly to everyone’s role on the team, is to contribute to the successful nature of the squad,” Lynch wrote. “My technical and physical skills have increased over the years, but being a senior doesn’t present many exclusive opportunities. Each player has an important role on the team, and even freshmen like [Cowie-Haskell] step up as monumental leaders.”
Lynch noted the camaraderie of his crew in addition to the team’s continual growth.
“I love our team dynamic,” he wrote. “As [Issroff] mentioned before, we have players on the bench who would start at any NESCAC school. The talent in our team fosters the ability to actively support each other on the field. As long as we keep pushing and encouraging each other, we will be [able to] achieve our goals for the end of the season. We are strong now, and we are only getting stronger.”
The Cardinals’ upcoming opportunity to exhibit that growing strength will be at home this Saturday, Sept. 6, in their first conference game of the season against Bowdoin. Lynch stressed the importance of mental and physical preparation for the weekend’s match and remained optimistic.
“Hydration is key for the next 24 hours!” he wrote. “It’s probably going to be another hot day on Saturday and we don’t want anyone having muscle issues going into the weekend. It is important to be as mentally prepared as we are physically prepared, however. Saturday will mark our first NESCAC game of the season. Bowdoin is going to be good on the ball and strong off the ball. I know, and so does the rest of the team, that we have to play harder and finish our chances better in order to get the result that we want.”
Lynch added that he believes this is the most talented roster he’s seen since he joined the team.
“The depth of this team and the support that we provide for each other will help take us to the top of the NESCAC and hopefully far into NCAAs,” he wrote.