Men’s soccer wins first game of season
Christian Dunn – Contributor
The men’s soccer team returned home for their first conference match of the season, taking on the 3-1 Saint Michael Purple Knights.
Despite scoring only one goal through the team’s first four games, the Owls’ offense was hot right from the start. Only seven minutes into the game, Owl midfielder Juan Alava took a pass from forward Jalen Jean and turned it into a 1-0 lead with a beautiful chip shot right over the Purple Knights goalie Ian Boudreau and into the back of the net. Only one minute later, the home team’s goalkeeper, Bailey Bassett, made his first save of the game with a nice dive to his left.
After some passes to work the ball down the field, the Owls once again found themselves in scoring position in the ninth minute of the game.
Defender Arnold Signell had a wonderful crossing pass to the left corner, where forward Jean, a freshman, was waiting.
Only two minutes after assisting on the first goal of the game, Jean turned the pass into another goal for the Owls, the first of his college career, with a nice shot into the right side of the net when St. Michael’s goalie stepped out to meet him in the box.
“I saw that there was a bit of space and so I ran into it,” Jean said, “and Arnold just gave me a beautiful ball through, and I hit it and I was just like watching it as it went in and I was just like, no way. The rush was just amazing, and I hope to score many more.”
After a highly effective first ten minutes, scoring with their first two shots on net, offenses on both sides were held scoreless the rest of the first half.
The Owls found themselves with a 2-0 lead to begin the second half, but kept their foot on the gas, and head coach Tom Lang did not want to give Saint Michael’s any sort of chance to get back in the game.
“We just wanted to make sure we kept doing the things that we did to get on top of them,” Coach Lang said, “and we knew that they would try to come back but I think that we handled it quite well.”
And handle it they did, impressive saves by Bassett in the 62 and 68 minute kept the shutout going, but more importantly prevented the Purple Knights from gaining any sort of momentum. After 65 scoreless minutes, the Owls did find the back of the net again: this time by Leroy Best, who had hit the crossbar earlier. This goal came after some fancy footwork by Best, who then sent the ball right into the top left corner in a spot St. Michael’s keeper could not reach even with a dive.
“It was my first game in a month so, finally glad to be back out here,” Best said, “and then obviously it’s always nice to score, just glad about the performance and effort we all put in and just happy to be back.”
As the final whistle blew, the Owls defense had not allowed a goal for the second time this season and did so against a team yet to be shut out this season.
“That’s pretty special,” Bassett said. “Especially because it came in our first win. That’s big time, especially coming off that big loss versus Wilmington, that does add a little extra spice, that’s very nice.”
The Owls’ next match will be on Wednesday, Sept. 22, versus the College of Saint Rose. It was a successful day for the Owl offense, particularly for the freshman players, who scored or assisted on each goal.
“We are a young team and we still have a little ways to go, so it is important for them to get the opportunities in these games,” Lang said, “and the most important thing is that they learn from their mistakes and if they can do that, it should be the sign of a good future.”