The men’s soccer team began the NESCAC portion of their schedule this past weekend, as long-time rival Bowdoin paid a visit to Middletown. In a matinee affair at Jackson Field, the Cardinals and Polar Bears fought hard until the end, when Bowdoin escaped with a 1-0 victory over the home team. Following Bowdoin, Wesleyan welcomed Western New England University to town with another chance for an out-of-conference tune-up, but were met with some tough competition. The Cardinals managed to come away with a 1-0 victory in overtime. After this week’s action, Wesleyan’s record now stands at 3-1-1, with an 0-1 record in NESCAC play.
Leading scorer Adam Cowie-Haskell ’18 addressed the team’s start to the season.
“So far the season has been just alright,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve really proved ourselves yet since we’ve only beat weaker opponents and came up short against Bowdoin. Then again, 3-1-1 is not a bad record for the first five games.”
The Polar Bears drew blood early on when Moctor Niang headed one past Redbird goalkeeper Jack Katkavich ’17 at the 15:47 mark. The early goal was all the Polar Bears would need to take home the victory. Katkavich stopped the other four shots he faced on the day, while Bowdoin goalie Stevie Van Siclen earned a shutout victory by making four stops. Wesleyan edged out their foe in shots 10-7, as well as corners 2-0, but a late offensive surge by the Cards turned out for naught as Bowdoin was able to hang on for the victory.
On Wednesday, the Cardinals welcomed Western New England to Jackson Field. The game began as a fairly even affair, with both teams recording eight shots in the first half. From the moment the second half commenced, however, the game tilted in the Cardinal’s favor. The home squad controlled the pace of the game for the majority of the half, yet they were only able to place two of their nine shots on goal. Western New England played defensively and forced overtime.
With the fear of letting another close game slip away on every Cardinal player’s minds, Alec Haas ’20 beat rival goalkeeper Kevin Strobel to back left corner of the net a mere 57 seconds into the extra period. The Cardinals outshot the Golden Bears in the game, 18-12, and also held the advantage in corner kicks at 6-1.
Cowie-Haskell, who led the Cardinals in shot attempts for the day, stated what he thinks has contributed to his personal successes so far.
“The key to my individual success has mostly been to do the basics right and get in the right areas to score,” he said. “My role is a simple one: hold the ball up in the middle of the field, and then create scoring chances offensively. So the basics I focus on are playing the ball simple, and making hard runs into the box.”
When asked how the victory will help the Cardinals in NESCAC play going forward, Cowie-Haskell offered his thoughts.
“Hopefully, it started the habit of winning,” he said. “After last weekend’s 1-0 NESCAC loss, we know that every game will be a battle, and we have the talent and know-how to beat any opposition in the NESCAC.”
The Cardinals return to action this Saturday when they travel to Lewiston, Maine to take on the Bates Bobcats at 2 p.m. Bates’ record currently stands at 2-2-2, with victories over Newbury College and the University of Maine at Farmington, draws against the University of New England and Bowdoin, and losses against NESCAC foes Tufts and Hamilton. Wesleyan will hope to match its dominant performance against Bates from last season, an utterly one-sided affair which concluded in a 5-0 thumping of the struggling Bobcats. Cowie-Haskell netted a hat trick during the contest, the first Wesleyan player to do so since Keisuke Yamashita ’10 scored three goals against Springfield College in 2008. Eric Gooden ’19 and former team captain Brandon Sousa ’16 also contributed goals in last year’s contest, making the final score a decisive 5-0.
Given the fact that the Cardinals are coming off a hard-fought, one-goal loss to their last NESCAC opponent, however, the game against Bates should be a close one, and critical if the team wishes to establish itself as a potential NESCAC champion and legitimate NCAA tournament contender.