With only four games remaining in the regular season, the men’s soccer team began its push to improve their conference position this past weekend, traveling to Waterville, Maine to take on the Colby Mules. A 1-1 draw at the half led to a 3-1 victory for the Cardinals, with Adam Cowie-Haskell ’18 scoring two second-half goals to give the road team the win. On Tuesday, in a non-conference affair against Wheaton College at Jackson Field, the Cardinals fell behind 2-0 before Alec Haas ’20 cut the deficit to one goal in the 61st minute. However, the Cardinal attack could not muster another goal, and the Red Birds fell by a score of 2-1. As of Wednesday, the Cardinals record currently stands at 5-5-1, with a 2-4-0 mark in the NESCAC.
“Our biggest issue this season has been consistency,” Dylan Hoy ’17 said. “We’ve had a couple great wins when we’ve really had no other choice but to win, but we haven’t been able to follow them up in the way we’ve wanted to. It also applies to our performances in single games, not just in terms of the whole season. Sometimes we start well, but can’t put the game away even though we play some good soccer, and other times we start flat and don’t really bring any urgency into our play until we find ourselves down one or even two goals. It’s a 90-minute game and we need to be better at being at our best for all 90 minutes, which I know we’re absolutely capable of.”
In the Saturday afternoon matchup against Colby, the Cardinals took the field with the hopes of improving their 1-4-0 record in NESCAC play. Senior captain Charlie Gruner ’17 helped Wesleyan draw first blood in the game with a goal at the 8:48 mark, his second goal of the year. Colby answered Gruner’s score with a goal at 24:45, when Jansen Aoyama beat Wesleyan goalkeeper Eric Jasinki ’17. The teams would head into the half deadlocked at 1-1, until Cowie-Haskell scored off a Mike Gallo ’20 pass at the 75:47 mark to give the Cardinals the edge. The goal marked his first tally since Sept. 13. For good measure, Cowie-Haskell added another goal less than a minute later with an assist from Griffin Godsick ’20. The Cardinals would hold on for the 3-1 victory.
Cowie-Haskell’s two scores upped his total to seven on the year, which is good for second in the NESCAC. His point total, currently at 17, is also second in the conference. The Cardinals shot 22 times in this matchup, placing 12 on target. The Mules mustered 17 shots themselves, 8 of which headed Jasinski’s way. The Wesleyan goaltender, making his first start of the season, earned the victory in a contest in which he stopped an impressive seven shots.
“Our goal is to win the NESCAC tournament and make it to NCAAs,” Charlie Livingstone ’18 said. “We feel confident we can accomplish this, as we got to the final last year so know what it takes to get there again, hopefully winning it this year.”
Tuesday afternoon, the Cardinals welcomed the Wheaton College Lyons for an out-of-conference game. Wheaton got on the board first in this one, scoring at the 23:03 mark. The visiting team added to their lead with a second goal before the half, despite the standout play of center back Nick Jackson ’18. A number of tackles and challenges by the Virginia native stifled the Lyons’ attack, preventing them from further adding to their lead. In the second half, scoring chances by Cowie-Haskell and Gruner would be for naught, until the Red Birds drew a penalty kick. Gruner’s shot would have been saved by the Lyons’ goalie, but Haas found the rebound and buried it into the back of the net to cut the Cardinal deficit to one. However, further scoring chances by Haas and Garrett Hardesty ’18 were denied, and Wheaton escaped with a 2-1 victory.
Jasinski, starting his second straight game, made four saves in the loss. Gruner led the home team in shots with 5 of the team’s 20. Wheaton managed 17 shots in the game, 6 of which were on target.
The Cardinals face two tough road battles ahead. The team travels to Williamstown, Mass. on Saturday to take on Williams before traveling to Middlebury on Sunday to play the Panthers. With only four games remaining in their season, this weekend’s matches loom large.
“Our goal is always to win,” Hoy said of the coming weekend. “Right now the focus is on Williams, because that’s the next game, and the only game we have control of at the moment. For the seniors, we haven’t beaten Williams yet in the time we’ve been here, so that would be a bonus. But getting three points from the game is our biggest goal and is absolutely the only thing on our minds. Both us and Williams have tough Sunday games, but given our Little Three rivalry and the way we’ve played each other in the past, I can guarantee neither team will be holding anything back.”
Livingston elaborated on his teammate’s statements.
“In order for us to come away with two wins this weekend, we must be extremely disciplined defensively, as giving away set piece opportunities is where many NESCAC teams score the majority of their goals against us,” he said. “In addition, we need to take our best goal-scoring chances, as there are not many good looks in a game, so we need to be clinical.”
In his fourth year with the program, Hoy had high praise for Wesleyan soccer as a whole.
“The most important takeaway for me playing in this outstanding program is understanding that you are a part of something much bigger than you may initially realize,” he said. “This program has a history, a tradition of winning, that you need to uphold when you put on the jersey. It’s something that you learn to fight for, and it instills in you a level of determination and perseverance that is hard to put into words. Playing for something bigger definitely has had an effect on me as a player in the way that I approach every game and training session. It has also positively influenced my tenacity in the classroom and I’m excited to use it in whatever I do after I graduate.”