May 21, 2024

This past week Men’s Soccer took on two opponents at home: Calvin College and Kenyon College. Tuesday night, the Tigers took on the Knights and lost 0-1 after a tough game. Later in the week, Witt went up against the Lords and fell 1-5.

“The past week was big for us,” Coach Burgess said. “Rarely do you play back to back games against teams ranked among the top 7 in the country. But that was our challenge. Witt men’s soccer hasn’t been able to compete with such teams since 2008, in fact most of those games resulted in lopsided losses. We challenged the current team to rise above that history.”

Men’s Soccer v. Calvin College

Tuesday evening, taking on the Calvin Knights, the Tigers held the game at 0-0 until the second half when the Knights scored. Jason Bowen, ’22, started the game and played the whole way through, rounding out his stats with two wins and two losses.

Alberto Zaragoza, ’19, started off the game with the first shot which flew high over the goal. The Tigers only took one shot in the first half, the remainder of the time being used to defend the goal with the Knights taking a whopping 12 shots, however neither team was able to score.

It wasn’t until seven minutes into the second half, when the Knights were able to make the only goal of the game. The Tigers used the rest of the game to take five shots and defend the goal. Calvin took only seven shots in the second half and were unsuccessful in scoring again.

The Tigers “emphasized a conservative, patient, disciplined approach designed to keep the game close into the second-half and thereby give ourselves a legitimate chance to win,” Burgess said. “That’s exactly what we did. It took almost an hour of game time for Calvin to finally break us down defensively and even so, we played enough quality soccer offensively to stay in the match to the final whistle.”

Zaragoza lead in shots for Witt taking two, one in the first half and one in the second. Bowen had nine saves with 10 shots on goal from the Knights.

Men’s Soccer v. Kenyon College

In the Tigers first conference game of the season, taking on the Kenyon Lords, they lost 5-1. The goal that Witt scored was their third goal scored against the Lords in the past five years. Kenyon has scored 26 goals on Witt in that time.

The Tigers started off strong with their defense, after a lightning delay, however Kenyon pushed the Tigers a little too far and scored twice in four minutes. “Against Kenyon, things played out much differently,” Burgess said. “In fact, the final score (5-1) doesn’t at all reflect what actually occurred. We made two critical defensive mistakes early and Kenyon took advantage as great teams do. Even so, we knew we were very much alive down 2-0.”

Several fouls were administered to both sides of the field, with one yellow card being given to Austin Lewis, ’19. Witt worked well as a team trying to move the ball up the field only to have the ball turned over

The second half of the game brought the one and only goal for the Tigers after the Lords scored twice. With eight minutes left in the game, Zaragoza found the opportunity to recieve the ball up the field and with an assist from Eli Esterline, ’22, the Tigers put a ball between the pipes and Zaragoza scored his seventh goal of the season. Following the goal, the Tigers kept the Lords at bay, but with one second left the Lords scored again putting the score at 5-1 and ending the game.

“We controlled much of the second-half and created a series of legitimate goal scoring opportunities,” Burgess stated. “If we convert even one of those to close within 2-1 we would have stayed with the game plan. But since we didn’t, we had no choice but to adopt a more aggressive approach on offense, which left us vulnerable to counter-attacks and opened the door for Kenyon to put the game out of reach. Still a loss is a loss whatever the final score and we were there to win.”

Jack Snider, ’19, made a total of four saves during the game, with nine shots on goal from the Lords. The Tigers racked up three yellow cards during the game, one for Lewis, one for Snider and the final for Gus Esterline, ’22.

“We played the majority of both games with 5 defenders, though 3 of those aren’t actually defenders at all,” Burgess said. “We’re confident the lessons learned in those games will not only benefit us over the second-half of the season but also be a key foundation piece as we continue rebuilding the program. We know our capabilities, now we must become consistent.”

The Tigers have scored 12 goals this season, with nine games under their belt, one being a conference game. The team is averaging 1.33 goals and 11.7 shots per game.

Coming up Witt will be hitting the road and taking on Earlham College on Tuesday and Oberlin College on Saturday. The Tigers will return home on Oct. 9, taking on Wabash College at 7:00 p.m.

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