Men’s soccer shut down by Merrimack 4-0
Edgar Ayala – Sports Editor
It was a cold afternoon for the spectators and for Southern’s men’s soccer team. When the final whistle was blown, rain had started to pour down on Jess Dow Field – putting a much bigger damp on an already detrimental result.
Head soccer coach Tom Lang was not pleased with the score or the team’s effort and felt the scoreboard reflected that.
“The first 20 minutes we were flat,” Lang said. “We didn’t compete. We didn’t find a way to get into the game. We made errors and mistakes. And as a result they capitalized, and that’s what good teams do.”
No. 24 nationally ranked Merrimack shut down the Owls 4-0 on Saturday, scoring the first three goals in the opening 19 minutes of play.
Captain Christian Samaniego said it was not their best game, and added that Merrimack’s early goal in the 8th minute caused the Warriors to gain momentum and add two more goals to their lead.
“We needed to step up in that specific moment in time,” said Samaniego referring to Merrimack scoring the three opening goals in a span of 11 minutes.
He added: “We had our heads down when we shouldn’t have. They took advantage of it. They kept building off the goals that they were scoring, and had a lot more energy. For us it was kind of hard to match that energy.”
Heading into the game, Southern was coming off a huge 5-0 win against Saint Anselm last Saturday. And the Owls’ goalkeeper, Noah Varonier, recorded his fourth clean sheet of the season that game. Unfortunately, he was on the receiving end of four goals on Saturday after not conceding one goal against Saint Anselm.
However, Varonier was arguably Southern’s best player, as he made six crucial saves against Merrimack that could have made 4-0 score uglier.
“We definitely have to move on, but were not going to forget this game,” Varonier said. “We have to use this game as fuel to the fire. We’re pissed off about it, but there’s still a lot of season left to play.”
This was Southern’s fourth loss of the season, but still have a winning record as they sit at a 5-4-1 record overall and 3-3-1 in the conference. Additionally, Merrimack also gave the Owls their first home loss of the season.
The Warriors’ first goal was off a corner kick. Mattia Lanzi found Jaime Cortes Torres inside the box, and he connected with his right foot on his first touch of the ball.
Then in the 17th minute, Merrimack would score off another set piece play from a free kick. Lars Sund crossed the ball from the free kick; Varonier would block it, but would land in at the feet of Josue Ruiz Maya for an easy goal from point blank range.
Two minutes later, Merrimack scored once more in the 19th minute off an error on defense. Southern’s Alex Soriano would lose the ball in the final third of the pitch, and Merrimack capitalized on that. Sund recovered the ball, dribbled past a defender and blasted a shot into the bottom left post.
In the second half, Sund would double his scoring total in the 73rd minute. Dribbling down the right sideline, Sund cut in and fired a right-footed shot that went right past the goalkeeper’s post.
“We had the capacity to be a good team, but we were not a good team today,” said Lang.
On top of the loss, Southern’s Conner Bradley would dislocate his left shoulder right before the first half ended. He was battling for possession of the ball in the air with a Merrimack player, then on the flight back down he tweaked the shoulder. He was substituted off the game and sent to the hospital immediately after the incident.
Next up for the Owls is a home contest against Saint Rose on Oct. 15.
Photo Credit: Palmer Piana – Photo Editor