Mens soccer shuts out UNH
Christian Dunn – Contributor
Following a road loss to Adelphi University and a postponement, the Owls returned home for their first game action in eight days, taking on city rivals, University of New Haven Chargers, following a three-game losing streak.
The Chargers pressured offensively for much of the first half, possessing the ball for 61% of it, and saw their first scoring opportunity only three minutes into the game. A great through ball by Andreas Xenofontos gave Adam Lindstrom a scoring opportunity in front of the net, however, he hit the crossbar, and soon after saw the ball go over the net by fellow Charger midfielder Avaro Ezpeleta.
Ten minutes later, in the 13th of the game, Charger midfielder Francis Guedes took his chances on a deep shot and managed to hit the cross bar but nothing more, thus sending the ball out of the field of play.
The Chargers offense would progressively slow down the rest of the first half but saw two more scoring chances come in the 29th and 24th minutes respectively, one resulting in a shot wide right by Adam Lindstrom once again and another a missed header on a good opportunity by Francis Guedes.
As for the Owls, their first great scoring opportunity came in the 38th minute, when midfielder Juan Alava, senior, was dribbling the ball down the right side. After a crossbar hit by Alava’s shot, Owl defender Santiago Slapak managed to find the back of the net off a rebound, giving the Owls a 1-0 lead and extending the team’s scoring streak to three games.
“We managed to get the ball on the right side,” Alava said, “got inside pass, rebound, then goal, and I’m very happy for the goal, but I am happier for the work in the defense.”
When Head Coach Tom Lang was asked about the scoring streak, he responded, “Well that’s what we try to set up to do every game, make sure we keep our opponents off the scoreboard and try to put up some goals on our end.” Coach Lang said, “It’s been a little bit of a struggle for us to get some goals, so we tried to take our opportunities when we had the chance.”
Offensive efficiency would remain a key factor in the matchup, with New Haven outshooting the Owls 17-9 and the Owls only sending 4 shots on target the entire evening.
The Owls would head to the locker room with a lead, 1-0, but despite this, Coach Lang remained adamant on maintaining the gameplan. “We pretty much stuck with what we had set out to try and achieve before the game,” she said.
Soon into the second half, the Chargers returned to their early game offensive power, sending multiple shots at the Owls’ goal early. A corner kick by Charger forward Pau Santanach in the 51st minute gave his team a chance to tie the game.
Defender for New Haven, Andreas Xenofontos, a senior, connected on a header with the corner ball but sent it just wide right of the net.
Back-to-back great scoring chances for the Chargers came in the 74th and 75th minutes, when Ian Richling delivered a wonderful ground pass to Pau Santanach, who sent the ball wide right, a recurring theme for New Haven’s offense. The other chance came on a free kick just outside the box by Charger defender Andreas Xenofontos.
Rather than sending a crosser for a possible header, Xenofontos opted to go straight for the right side of the Owls’ net, but was stopped by Owl keeper Bailey Bassett, who recorded his third shutout of the season tonight.
“It wasn’t just the defense or me, the whole team, we pressured from the top and we pressured all way back into our own box, we did a really good job of keeping them in front of us,” Bassett said, “we had some penalties that put us in some pretty deep situations, but I think we did well with what they did against us.”
Those opportunities for the Chargers would be the last two for either team in the game, as the last 20 minutes were properly drawn out by the Owls’ offense, who managed to keep the ball in New Haven’s zone during the remaining minutes. The Owls achieved this with the help of Coach Lang’s use of substitute players, who saw a substantial amount of playing time in the match.
“It helped keep some guys fresh, it’s something that we’d talked about as a team,” Lang said, “we had a little bit of a break between games where we had a week to work on some things, and discuss and evaluate some things, and one of the things we talked about was putting our faith in some of the young players who are adjusting to the college game and we will begin to put in our lineup more.”
Much like Coach Lang, Goalkeeper for the Owls, Bailey Basset, a midfielder, also resonated with the idea of teamwork and working together. “We’ve got three things, we work hard, were accountable and we play for each other,” Bassett said.
The Owls will head on the road to take on undefeated Franklin Pierce Oct. 9.