The University if Mary Washington’s men’s soccer started their season 2-0 after consecutive wins this past weekend at the Battlegrounds.
In the first contest, which was also Mary Washington’s season opener, the Eagles took on Hampden-Sydney College. Mary Washington had clear advantage in the first half.
They passed well and spread the field for maximum efficiency. They had nine shots in the first half but were not able to find the goal. Freshmen Jake Weiss and Patrick Kelly found good opportunities to score but their chances were often stuffed by Hampden-Sydney’s goalkeeper Blake Carrey.
It was both team’s first regular season game and the blood between the two teams wasn’t the best. The Eagles narrowly defeated the Tigers last season with a goal in the final three minutes of the game. The first half was physical with ample amounts of jersey tugging and body shoving. The teams combined for ten fouls in the first half alone.
With 12 minutes remaining in the first half, Freshman Josh Campbell went to challenge a loose ball with Carrey. Once Carrey had secured the ball, a few words were exchanged which resulted in Campbell delivering a blow with his elbow to the goalkeeper’s torso. He was immediately given a red card; the Eagles would have to play one man down for the rest of the game.
Despite losing a player, the Eagles were playing like they were at full strength. Kelly and junior Tanner Carlton both had quality shots on goal in the remainder of the half.
In the second half they picked up from where they stopped. The shots just kept coming, overwhelming the Tigers defense.
Three minutes in junior Nick Shepherd played a long ball to Kelly. He continued to weave beat Tiger defenders within the 18 yard box. He connected with a shot to pin the ball it on the right side of the goal passed the sprawled out keeper. Soon thereafter he was engulfed by his team which helped him celebrate his first college goal.
Kelly, last year’s Virginia Group AA player of the year is one of many freshmen who have made an impact. Freshmen Jonathan Gamarra and Scott Cooper also had quality playing time in the midfield and forward position.
After the goal, the Eagles kept bringing the game to Hampden-Sydney. They attacked the goal and didn’t allow the Tigers to create many scoring opportunities. Despite their disadvantage, Mary Washington’s speed and smarts prevented any serious Hampden-Sydney advances. Sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Back only registered one save but was very effective in using his 6’3” frame to rise above players to swipe the ball from the air. Hampden-Sydney would get shot opportunities but they were rarely on frame. The Eagles ended the game with a 1-0 lead and it was enough to win their first game of the season.
Coach Jason Kilby preached possession as a key to winning this season. “We’ve got to possess the ball, but more than that possess it with purpose,” he said, “let the ball do the work.”
The Eagles took the field the following day to play Eastern Mennonite University; another member of the very competitive Old Dominion Athletic Conference. It was another 1-0 low scoring affair for the both teams. The Eagles dominated possession, holding the Royals to only two shots all game.
The game was unfolding similar to the one they had played the day before. They were getting shots, but not shots on frame while struggling to find the holes in the Royal defense.
The veterans began to step up with shots from seniors Matt Alter, Matt Poole and junior Tommy Sangbouasy. The Eagles went into halftime knotted up at zero, frustrated at their inability to find the net.
The second half began with a similar tempo, plenty of possession, plenty of shots, plenty of effort but no goals to prove it.
Sangbouasy got possession at the 62 nd minute and flanked around the Royals defenses. Just outside the penalty area he connected with a right footed strike which found the net and put the Eagles on the board for the first time.
They continued to attack for the remainder of the game but couldn’t find the net again. UMW walked off he field winners. Last night the team played again, defeating Randolph-Macon College 3-0. Goals came from Kelly who had 2 and Sangbouasy. They will be in Pennsylvania on Saturday to play Messiah who is currently ranked 17th in the nation.