By ANDREW KADA
This past Saturday the University of Mary Washington men’s soccer team faced off with North Carolina Wesleyan College at the Battleground Athletic Complex. If you didn’t know that, you weren’t as smart as Sen. Joe Biden.
Said Biden, “It looks like we got the leftover crowd from the soccer game.”
Biden later explained that the Eagles had won the game.
With a No. 8 ranking in the south region, the men’s team was able to upset the No. 4 ranked team, NC Wesleyan with a 1-0 win.
With showers across the Fredericksburg area Friday and into the night, the soccer grounds were wet and tender creating a potential problem of difficult conditions.
“Looking back, the soft ground should had given NC Wesleyan an advantage due to their greater athleticism,” said senior goalkeeper Emmett Rutkwoski. “However, we proved that was something we could in fact handle.”
“We have gotten some very positive results,” said head coach Roy Gordon. “Given the very, very difficult early season schedule, the 7-2-1 record we now have is excellent.”
Having been defeated by NC Wesleyan 4-0 last year, the Eagle men were thirsty for a rematch for bragging rights. Strategic preparations were formulated for the specific style of play that Gordon knew that his team would be up against on Saturday.
“We added an extra full time defender to counter their three full time forwards. We played low pressure [offense] allowing them to keep possession in their defensive end,” Gordon said. “This allows us to stay compact as a team. From this shape, we needed to counterattack and try to score against a disorganized and spread out defense. I think this is probably where the goal came from”
In the first half of Saturday’s game no goals were scored. However, the Eagles were out done on shots on goal. The NC Wesleyan Bishops made eight shots on UMW’s net while the Eagle men’s tough effort only garnered one.
Despite the standing stalemate, the second half of the game saw the best action with 10 shots by NC Wesleyan and four by UMW, one of which that secured the game win for the Eagles.
Sophomore midfielder Preston Hirten single-handedly made his way past two Bishop defenders right before launching a fierce ball around the keeper.
Rutkowski was proud of Hirsten’s performance.
“Preston had the composure to work up and put it past their keeper. It was a great individual effort.” Rutkowski said.
For the remainder of the half, 41 minutes, the Eagle men tediously managed to fend off further attempts by NC Wesleyan. Rutkowski had a spectacular showing of saves and deflections protecting the UMW lead. When asked about Rutkowski’s performance, Gordon only had two words, “Absolutely terrific.”
Going ahead from the weekend, the Eagle men are confident and victorious.
“We have a lot of momentum right now. We’re undefeated at home,” Hirten said.
However, the men’s team must remain wary as they have yet to encounter two great conference competitors in York College of Pa. and Salisbury University.
The men’s soccer team is scheduled to compete against York away on Oct. 18 and against Salisbury on Oct. 25 here in Fredericksburg for UMW’s homecoming weekend.
With the ultimate team goal being the capture of the CAC Conference Title, Gordon is not letting any of the season wins thus far allow any early celebration.
“We absolutely cannot lose to a team we should defeat and we have to get results versus Salisbury and York.”