Despite a wave of momentum from the Homecoming win against Amherst, the men’s soccer team was unable to carry that energy into the week as it lost both competitions against Trinity and Middlebury. Wesleyan faced the Bantams on Thursday, Oct. 23, when Wes grabbed one goal to Trinity’s two. On Saturday, Oct. 25, the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the second half before one Panther found the back of the net on three separate occasions, ending the contest with a 3-1 result.
“[In] both performances we showed, as a team, some good moments, but also some moments that came from lack of concentration,” wrote striker Dylan Hoy ’17 in an email to The Argus. “We play best when we play smart, whether that’s keeping the ball on the ground and finding people’s feet, or stretching the game and playing passes in behind the opposition’s defense. In both games we found success doing both, but not consistently enough.”
In the match against the Bantams, Hoy took a free kick that became the perfectly-timed assist for Wes’ lone goal of the game. Matt Lynch ’15 capitalized on Hoy’s cross with a header into the net in the 63rd minute for his fourth goal of the season.
“I was out wide on the sideline and Danny Rubenstein [’17] played a ball into my feet,” Hoy wrote. “Right before I went in, Coach Wheeler told me to take players on and cut inside with the ball, so that’s what I did. I escaped the first defender but was fouled in the process, giving us a free kick from about 45 yards. We have a lot of height on our team, and the goalie wasn’t particularly big or aggressive, so I swung the free kick in right at him just above head height. Matt Lynch timed his run perfectly and was able to find space in front of the goalkeeper, where he headed the ball past him at close range.”
Lynch and Hoy put the Cards on the scoreboard but were unable to rally the team to come back from a 2-1 deficit. Though Wesleyan outshot Trinity 17 to 14, with the Cards firing two more shots on target than did their opponents, a red card ejection of veteran goalkeeper Emmett McConnell ’15 forced the Cards down to 10 men against an aggressive Bantam attack.
“On a play where a Trinity player got behind our defense, Emmett came out of his box to try and close the player down,” Hoy wrote. “As the player shot, Emmett jumped to block it but the ball hit his hands. Since the play was an obvious goal scoring opportunity, the referee had no choice but to give Emmett a red card. It was a harsh but fair call. Normally the player who gets red carded just leaves the game, but since both teams must play with a goalkeeper, Jack [Katkavich ’17] came in to replace Emmett and we were forced to sacrifice a field player.”
McConnell’s red card carried over into Saturday’s game and Katkavich again tended goal in McConnell’s stead.
“Jack did exceptionally well in goal considering it was his first two varsity matches ever, and given the high pressure of the point in the season that we are at,” Hoy wrote.
Against Middlebury, Adam Cowie-Haskell ’18 scored his fifth goal of the season and the Cards’ sole score of the match in the 52nd minute. The Panthers replied soon after with three consecutive goals that were all scored by the same Middlebury forward.
“It takes a quality player to score 3 goals in a game at any level,” Hoy wrote. “[Middlebury’s forward is] very tall, strong and athletic which is what makes him dangerous, and was in the right spots at the right times that day. I wouldn’t exactly say we were unable to contain him though, and I think if we meet them again in the post-season we will do a much better job at marking him tighter so he doesn’t find as much success winning headers and taking the ball down out of the air.”
In terms of goals allowed, the last two games are anomalies compared to the rest of the season. Hoy attributed the latest defeats to slip ups and a loss of focus, outlining what the team needed to improve in order to perform as well as it hopes to in the playoffs.
“Last year our problem was not scoring enough goals, though we managed to shutout the majority of our opponents,” Hoy wrote. “This year we have been able to score more goals, but we have also been letting up more goals. We have missed the presence of Spencer Tanaka [’15] who is just returning from a knee injury, but Nick Jackson [’18] has filled in very nicely this year, and we definitely aren’t allowing goals due to a lack of quality in our back line. It’s tough to say exactly where they’re coming from, though the thing they all have in common is they stem from a lack of concentration on the field as well as mistakes that in hindsight are very preventable. The teams we play are good but many of the goals we concede come from our own mistakes, which we will need to eliminate in order to find success in the post-season.”
To cap off the regular season, the Cards will be hosting Conn College this Wednesday, Oct. 29. Kickoff is at 3:00 PM on Jackson Field. With the first game of the NESCAC playoffs taking place this weekend on Saturday, Nov. 1, the team is going into Wednesday’s game with an eye on the bigger picture.
“Conn is a tough opponent because of how physical they are, and games against them are always a battle,” Hoy wrote. “We scrimmaged them in preseason and have a pretty good idea of how they play, but we are going to need to be ready to compete for everything when we play them on Wednesday. The outcome of the game also determines which opponent we play in the first round of the NESCAC tournament on Saturday, and above all we want to end our regular season on a high note and gain momentum heading into the postseason.
“At this point we are guaranteed a spot in the NESCAC tournament, but to us our opponent is somewhat arbitrary,” Hoy continued. “Every game in this league is a tough game. The team that consistently performs the best is going to be champions in November, and we have a particularly special group of guys this year that I know aren’t going to let this season end early. Every player on our team knows what we’re capable of, and the NESCAC tournament is where we’re going to climb to our highest potential and come home with some hardware.”