The University of Mary Washington birthday bash had an unwelcome guest last Saturday, when the men’s soccer team lost to York College of Pennsylvania 2-1 in front of a raucous Homecoming crowd of more than 700 students and alumni.
York drew first blood, scoring at 4:01 in the first period on a free kick.
Not to be outdone, sophomore Ryan Taibl got the crowd on its feet and the score even off of an assist from sophomore Matt Lawrey at 36:23.
Junior Tommy DiNuzzo was pleased with the start of the game.
“I thought we had a very strong first half and really controlled the pace of the game,” he said. “We created some chances but we needed to put them away or at least take the lead in the first half.”
Despite a good showing early on, UMW’s offense came to a halt in the second half.
York faced a rowdy stadium of taunts and boos, but still regained control of the game at 63:42 after an assisted header and managed to keep the Eagles at bay.
Two yellow cards and a series of failed offensive drives later, the final minutes wound down and UMW failed to send the game into overtime.
Despite the loss, head coach Roy Gordon had plenty of good things to say about the match-up.
“We did a great job with discipline,” he said. “We were moving the ball and passing very well, and had a great counter attack during the first period. We’ve got a very competitive team these last two years, and we’ve hung around with the top teams nationally.”
Junior Stefan Melone agreed.
“Our team gets along really well,” he said. “We played good defense, and really, we just gave up perfect goals. A foot in either direction and those goals would have missed. We can keep pace with great teams; we just need to be able to finish our opportunities.”
The Eagles had seven attempts at goal, falling short to York’s nine. UMW also took all three corner kicks in the contest but was unable to connect with the net.
The loss drops the Eagles to 10-5 overall, and 5-3 in Capital Athletic Conference play.
DiNuzzo credits UMW’s defense for keeping the game so close.
“We kept our shape very well defensively…this was in large part due to our three backs, (junior) David Rodriguez, (sophomore) Peter Toohey, Melone, and our center midfielder (sophomore) Justin Weirich,” he said.
Although Gordon is confident his team can hang with the best of them, he noted a particular area for improvement.
“Our biggest issue has just been scoring,” he said. “Seems like that’s been our M.O. We can keep close, but if we are not able to score, it will be tough to get wins.”
UMW will host Villa Julie College Oct. 27.