Men’s soccer drops home opener
Morgan Douglas – Sports Editor
Men’s soccer lost on Saturday to the Dominican College Chargers 2-1 at Jess Dow Field and remain winless to begin the 2021 season, with their record sitting at 0-2-1.
The first half got off to a sluggish start. The Owls had a scoring opportunity in the 20th minute but were unable to capitalize. Goalkeeper Bailey Bassett had two saves in the first half for the Owls but allowed one unassisted goal to Chargers Forward Nicholas Julien in the 40th minute.
“For the first half we really didn’t compete and play the way we’re capable of,” Head coach Tom Lang said, “And as a result, we gave up a goal and were chasing the game after that.”
Dominican College improved to 5-1 after their victory in this non–conference matchup. In the first half, they had three shots on target compared to the Owls’ one.
“There’s always things that we can improve upon,” Coach Lang said. “I think for us we just need to be a little bit better in front of the ball, with the final pass or quality of the final shot that we have at goal.”
The Owls came out playing more aggressively in the second half and were more focused too, as five of the six shots they took in the second half were on target. Unfortunately, all the shots resulted in only the one goal.
The first goal of the season for men’s soccer was scored by a freshman. In the 70th minute, defender Matthew Jaansalu found the back of the net off a Juan Avila assist. It marked the first goal of his college career.
“The ball came into the box off a corner, it was coming through a bunch of bodies, just coming straight at me,” Jaansalu said. “I didn’t really know what to do, I just hit it and it went in.”
Though Jaansalu makes it sound rather fluky. There was a method to the madness. Orchestrated chaos is often such a major factor in sporting outcomes. Expect the unexpected and be prepared.
“We practice those kinds of plays,” Avila said, “so I knew where I needed to put the ball, and Matt was there to put it away.”
With the score tied, it breathed new life into the Owls, but also gave a jolt to the Chargers. The closing moments would come down to, as it often does, execution.
For a few moments, it felt as though momentum had shifted to the home team’s favor. Then, in the 78th minute, Chargers’ midfielder Antonio Zhu Sanchez scored, assisted by Maximino Martinez.
With 12 minutes left in regulation, the Owls were quickly running out of time to make something happen late and came up short.
“These losses are where you really learn what’s wrong with the team and what we need to do better,” Avila said.
One thing both coach and players alike remarked on postgame was the slow start the team got off to in the first half, and how it left them playing catch up for the rest of the afternoon.
“I don’t think there are a lot of positives to take from it,” Coach Lang said. “Other than we learned a lesson that if we don’t come prepared and ready to play for 90 minutes at this level, you get hurt.”
Men’s soccer will look for their first win on the road in Del. on Sept. 15 when they take on Wilmington University in another non-conference matchup.
“We just need to be better,” Jaansalu said. “I don’t think this is a game that they won, it was more of a game that we lost.”
In the meantime, the group will work on righting the ship while the season is still in its infant stages.
“We want to be known as being hard to beat,” Avila said. “Hard to score on, making it difficult for the other team, and I think we’ve done it for a short period of time, but now it needs to be a full 90 minutes.”