Playing through two overtime periods, the men’s soccer team drew Wheaton College to a scoreless draw for their second tie of the week. After traveling to Rhode Island to face Roger Williams University on Wednesday, Sept. 10, Wesleyan went to Massachusetts to compete against Wheaton on Saturday.
“Wheaton [was] a good squad,” veteran goalkeeper Emmett McConnell ’15 wrote in an email to the Argus. “We wanted to win, of course, but a draw isn’t terrible. The game was probably one of the fastest paced games so far, and also our biggest challenge.”
McConnell and the Cardinal defense kept the Wheaton offense silent despite 16 total shots from the Lyons, five of which were on frame. After four saves, Saturday’s tie marked McConnell’s third shutout in four starts this season, bumping up his streak of scoreless play to 237 minutes and 36 seconds.
“Speaking for at least the defenders and overall defensive work-rate, we were very strong and cohesive as a unit,” McConnell wrote. “The defenders won most 1 v. 1 battles and worked [their] butts off.”
One such victory came from defensive back Ben Bratt ’15, who secured a defensive save in the 66th minute.
“My success only comes from what my defense gives me,” wrote McConnell. “They force other teams into tough, low-percentage chances, which [makes it] much easier for me than trying to stop 1 v. 1s or close range opportunities.”
In addition to a solid and hard-working defense, McConnell’s experience and talent were instrumental in keeping Wheaton scoreless. He made his biggest save in the second period when he dived to stop a shot headed for the lower right corner of the net. Despite such veteran skill, McConnell credited his defense to making his job easier.
“The past few games have given me relatively easy work because of the defense in front of me,” he wrote. “I don’t exactly have to be at my best when they play like this, and it makes me look good.”
When it comes to penalty kicks, like the one McConnell stopped earlier in the week in Wesleyan’s match-up against Roger Williams, McConnell remained wary of the odds at stake in stopping a penalty kick. He humbly described saving a PK as similar to flipping a coin.
“I’ve probably just gotten lucky,” he wrote. “I feel I’ve gotten good at reading penalty takers but in the end it’s pretty much a 50/50 crap shoot. By the time it gets to the game, I’m hopefully just working out of muscle memory so I don’t have to think much.”
On the offense, the Cardinals posted 13 total shots, three of which were on goal. Though the scoreboard stayed blank, usual suspects like Adam Cowie-Haskell ’18, Matt Lynch ’15, and Garrett Hardesty ’18 (each with a shot on goal) forced the Wheaton goalkeeper to make three saves.
The Cardinals will face Tufts for their second NESCAC game of the season this Wednesday, Sept. 17.
“Tufts is going to be one of the best opponents we play, and definitely one of the most underrated,” McConnell wrote. “They might have some of the best individual talent in the league. We’ll try and neutralize their strengths defensively, but mostly we try to prepare our game to perfection, so we can bring the game to them, and force them out of their comfort zone. It’s one of the games that could go anyway as of now, of course we expect to win, however.”
McConnell’s optimism for the team as well as his own performance extended past the upcoming game against Tufts. So far, it is well placed.
“My goal is no goals,” he wrote. “That’s it. As for the team, we just hope to win each game as we get to it.”