Fresh off an upset over NESCAC rival Tufts on the road last week, the men’s soccer team looked to carry momentum into the weekend. Two conference foes visited Jackson Field this past weekend: the Hamilton Continentals and the Trinity Bantams.
However, the team’s inspired play from a week ago would not carry over into the weekend, as the Cardinals dropped matches to each opponent by a one-goal margin. Following a 2-1 loss to Hamilton in overtime and a 2-1 loss to Trinity in regulation time, the Cardinals’ record currently stands at 4-4-1, with a 1-4-0 mark in NESCAC play.
Garrett Hardesty ’18 offered some insight as to why the Cardinals haven’t played their best soccer this year.
“I think the team is just lacking a bit of inspiration,” he said. “When we get scored on, or we score, we always pick up our intensity and play better. If we can have that from the start of the game, all the way through, this team could have a great run.”
On Saturday in a matinee affair, the Cardinals battled the Continentals, who entered the day at 3-1-0 in conference play. The two sides played a scoreless first half, with Hamilton edging out the home team 3-2 in shots. However, Killian Clancy got the Continentals on the board first with a goal at the 65:46 mark of the game. Just minutes later, Nick Miceli ’17, playing his first year with the team, drew a penalty kick to give the Redbirds an opportunity to tie the score.
Captain Charlie Gruner ’17 made the Continentals pay for their mistake when he buried the PK past the Hamilton goalkeeper at the 69:14 mark for his first score of the season. The goal would be enough to force overtime, as the game remained scoreless for the rest of regulation. However, Jefri Schmidt was able to beat Wesleyan netminder Jack Katkavich ’17 at the 92:14 mark to give the Continentals a victory on the road.
Katkavich stopped two of the four shots he faced on the day, while his counterpart Harris Pollack made one save for the Continentals. Each team earned three corner kicks, while Hamilton outshot Wesleyan 9-8. Gruner and fellow captain Danny Rubenstein ’17 each took two shots for the Cardinals.
Hardesty, who is among the team’s leading contributors with four goals this year, talked about what is different for him this season.
“I think the biggest thing is confidence,” Hardesty said. “When the team is firing, and everyone feels confident, that entirely changes an offense. Whether it’s myself, or a player playing next to me, we feed off one another. When you score a goal, it just makes you want to score more. That’s a big difference.”
Following their heartbreaking loss on Saturday, the Cardinals looked to rebound against a struggling Trinity squad. Though Trinity entered play on Sunday with a 1-4-0 NESCAC record, the Bantams got on the board early against the Cardinals with a goal at the 3:50 mark by Sam Milbury. A scoring chance for Mike Gallo ’20 was negated when Trinity goaltender Domenic Quade made a great save, and Trinity jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Oliver Murphy converted a penalty kick at 14:26.
A save by Katkavich early in the second half jump-started a Cardinal run, and Alec Haas ’20 found twine in the 72nd minute to cut the deficit to one. However, the Cardinals would not be able to muster another goal and fell to their Route Nine rivals by a 2-1 score.
“We came out slow for the first 15 minutes before playing some of our best soccer of the season,” Rubenstein said. “After going down two early, we responded well but it was just a little too late.”
Shots in the game were even at 15 apiece, but the Cardinals held the advantage in corner kicks, 10-1. Katkavich stopped three shots on the afternoon, while Hardesty paced the team with five shots.
The Cardinals return to action this Saturday with a trip to Waterville, Maine to take on NESCAC rival Colby. The teams’ plan for the weekend is clear.
“Our goal this weekend is to get a win,” Rubenstein said. “We are going to do everything we have to do to get the result we need. We have to stick to our game plan and take it one game at a time while just controlling what we can control.”