Traveling all the way to Waterville, Maine, the men’s soccer team beat Colby on Saturday, Oct. 4 in what proved to be another game that was not settled in the opening 90. Two scoreless periods of play gave way to a quiet first overtime. The silence on the pitch was not broken until early in the second overtime when Wes capitalized on an offensive opportunity near Colby’s net.
“The corner kick came in the second overtime,” wrote midfielder Brandon Sousa ’16 in an email to The Argus. “We were pressing and attacking as much as we could and we all felt like the goal was coming. The corner kick I took was actually the second one of back to back corner kicks. I took the first corner kick and it wasn’t a very good one. Luckily, it went off a defender so I got a second chance to take another one.”
Sousa’s second corner kick was a cross to the front post. Instead of a defender taking the first touch on the ball, midfielder Hans Erickson ’16 was there to seize the opportunity.
“As the second [corner kick] came in I was thinking to myself: I need to make sure I get in front of the near post guy in case he serves it into that area again,” wrote Erickson in an email to The Argus. “When the ball came in I managed to get a head on it and flick it across the face of the goal and before I knew it the ball was in the net.”
In yet another shutout game, Erickson’s score secured the win for Wesleyan, advancing its overall record to 5-2-2 and 4-1 in NESCAC play. Erickson’s goal was his first of the season and Sousa’s second assist.
“Scoring a goal is always a great feeling and it’s always a special moment when that goal happens to be a game-winner,” Erickson wrote. “But honestly I was just relieved we were able to find a way to get the W.”
“We feel good with the win,” Sousa wrote. “We all felt like we deserved the win; however, we are still not satisfied. We still need to capitalize more on our chances. For us to perform well we try and get the ball wide and hit good crosses. We like to keep possession and keep a high amount of pressure on the other team.”
Wesleyan was able to do just that, both offensively and defensively. The Cardinals fired nine total shots in the game, more than double the total number of shots taken by the Mules, who were kept to only four shots taken in the first two periods of play. Colby was completely cut off from any offensive opportunities throughout overtime.
“Every time you go into overtime, it really comes down to who wants it more,” Erickson wrote. “Everyone is tired both physically and mentally but it’s all about pushing through the fatigue and finding a way to get the ball in the back of the net. Thankfully we were able to find a way on Saturday. One thing that gives our team a tremendous advantage is our depth and that has definitely proved vital in our overtime victories so far this year.”
Saturday’s victory was Wesleyan’s fourth shutout of the season and continued the Cards’ 15-game win streak over the Mules.
“From my experience, this was my third win in three games against Colby,” Sousa wrote. “Two of the games have gone into overtime. In regards to this one, we try and keep the same game plan and mentality for every game, no matter who we are playing against.”
Despite such a record in Wesleyan’s favor, Colby proved to be a worthy opponent, as evidenced by both a close call saved by veteran goalie Emmett McConnell ’15 and a Mules defense that kept the Cardinals firing fewer shots than usual.
“I think Colby was honestly just a better team than the other ones we’ve played recently,” Erickson wrote. “They were coming off a hot streak and were feeling pretty good about themselves but luckily we were able to find a way to break them down in the end. Initially we came out firing and had some good chances to score but they did a decent job holding their own. Emmett also had a huge save in the second half that kept the game at zeros but I would say we had the better chances throughout the course of the game.”
Even in the face of a tough defense, Sousa was optimistic about his team’s ability to execute and to win; his sentiment was backed by Saturday’s clutch performance.
“We just have to keep sticking with our game plan and trusting each other to do what we need to do,” he wrote. “We will continue to play for each other and keep improving every day.”
Coming off of two consecutive ’CAC wins, the Cardinals host Salve Regina University on Tuesday, Oct. 7, for their last out-of-conference game of the season. The game will take place at 7 p.m. on Jackson Field, and Erickson and the team are calling for a big turnout.
“We really need to continue to find a way to produce offensively,” he wrote. “We’ve been getting a lot of shots and chances but we still haven’t been able to convert our chances into goals so that will definitely be a focus for us. Out of conference games are always really important and as this is our last one it will definitely be a big one. Hopefully we will get lots of support from the rest of the Wes community!”