By MADALYN CROWELL
The men’s soccer team defeated Hampden-Sydney College 2-1 on Saturday, Oct. 2, to improve to 7-1-1 for the season. Senior Ryan Taibl led the UMW charge, scoring both goals for the Eagles in the first half.
“It feels great to get the win,” Taibl said. “It’s also good that we finally started out the game well, because we haven’t started a game well this entire year. There are still things we need to work on, so we need to work hard in practice and focus on the No. 1 team in the country, CNU, for Wednesday.”
Taibl scored the first goal, unassisted, in the sixth minute of the game and then furthered the Eagles advantage with another goal assisted by senior T.L. Tutor in the 29th minute to bring the score to 2-0. But the Tigers quickly responded, as less than a minute later they countered with a goal of there own by sophomore Curran Blackwell to once again make it a one-score game.
The Eagles held their own during the second half, and while they were not able to secure another goal to increase their lead, the defense stayed sound to prevent the Tigers from tying the game.
“The second half was a struggle. We weren’t able to keep possession, which forced us to defend for the better part of the half,” senior Jae Park said.
UMW men’s soccer head coach Roy Gordon was happy with the fast start but still sees room for improvement for his team.
“The team started well, jumping out to a 2-0 lead, but [we] had to withstand a furious attempt by Hampden-Sydney to get the tying goal,” Gordon said. “We will need to possess the ball a bit better and make some better decisions in our attacking play in order to continue to have success.”
Sophomore Matt Pool agreed with his coach that he thinks the team still has areas where they can improve.
“Hampden-Sydney is good offensively and has some key players up top, but all in all I feel that they stacked up pretty well against us and, in some aspects of the game, accomplished things that we didn’t,” Poole said. “There was a lack of communication and man-marking defensively, which gave them a lot of opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net, but lucky for us they struggled scoring.”
The Eagles felt that they got what they expected from Hampden-Sydney and weren’t surprised by anything tactically.
“We’ve been training to play against teams that play the same formation as HSC, so the preparation going into the game wasn’t too different then it has been,” Park said. “We felt very well prepared for HSC. We played them twice last year and most of their players were returning players, so we were well aware of their strengths and weaknesses.”
Junior Robby Davis expressed his gratitude for the fans that came out to support the men’s soccer team Saturday.
“We have had a rambunctious, enthusiastic and entertaining crowd at every game, and we wouldn’t want it any other way at the Battleground,” Davis said.
The Eagles are about to enter the rigors of conference play, and coach Gordon and the team are prepping for the difficult schedule ahead.
“After Wednesday’s match-up against Christopher Newport, which right now is one of the top Division III teams in the nation, the Eagles will have six consecutive, tough conference match-ups,” Gordon said.
The Eagles fell to No. 1 CNU last night, Oct. 6, 1-0.
The men’s soccer team is at home again this Saturday, Oct. 9, as they take on Frostburg State University at 2 p.m.