BY NICK NELSON
The Mary Washington men’s soccer team had a special birthday present for goalie Emmett Rutkowski on Saturday, defeating in-state rival Christopher Newport University.
With the 2-1 victory the Eagles improved to 4-2-1 in overall season play while the loss sent Christopher Newport to a 5-2-1 record.
The entirety of the Mary Washington offense was achieved in the first fourteen minutes of play, with goals from sophomore T.L. Tutor in the 11th minute and senior Darien Ruggles during the 14th.
Christopher Newport’s only goal of the match came in the 71st minute of the game.
Tutor scored a header off of senior Tommy DiNuzzo’s corner kick, while sophomore Preston Hirten earned the assist on the Ruggles goal.
Despite the low-scoring affair, coach Roy Gordon was generally pleased with his team’s performance.
“Our guys were all heart out there. CNU is a very good team with great defenders, but we put our head into the game and we were all heart,” Gordon said.
However, Gordon realized that tight defense and determined play were the key elements in Saturday’s win.
“We worked on our counters and our combination play. CNU took over the game for a while. We panicked a little, but we hung in. We took the lead early, held onto it, and really played with heart. The team that wins isn’t always the best, but the one who does things well and is effective at it.”
The Eagles had just finished a three-game road trip, losing to Randolph-Macon, tying Roanoke, and reigning victorious over St. Mary’s College of Maryland. The Eagles are 1-0 in Capital Athletic Conference play.
Despite what the scoreboard showed, the Captains outshot the Eagles 17-9 and had eight corner kicks to the Eagles’ two. Even with the two goals, Mary Washington was still outshot 7-3 in the first half.
Junior Rutkowski had eight saves on his birthday game, while CNU had two saves.
“It was such a big win, and even better to get it on the big Twenty-One. We just really wanted to win. CNU was really dominant but we just really wanted it,” Rutkowski said.
The players all realize exactly what was necessary in order to get the win in Saturday’s game, even when presented with limited opportunities to put the ball in the goal.
“Bottom line, we just really finished our chances. We didn’t get too many, but we finished the ones we needed to. We really used some hard work out there,” DiNuzzo said. “They threw numbers at us, and they really played us hard, but our goalie had some great saves out there. On his birthday, too, man. It was awesome.”
“The defense really helped me out today. We got a two-goal lead and that really helped us. CNU was really physical out there. Both teams played some really crisp soccer. We were connecting on everything and we just played a more tactful and technical game,” said Rutkowski.
Their next game will be at home against North Carolina Wesleyan College on Saturday at 2 p.m.