By NICK NELSON
With the thrill of the homecoming spirit running through their veins, the Mary Washington men’s soccer team held the archrival Salisbury Sea Gulls to a 0-0 tie in front of packed crowd this past Saturday.
Mary Washington and Salisbury were each held to nine total shots throughout the game, but thanks to rock-solid defense and determined goalkeeping on both sides, the game completed scoreless despite ninety minutes of regulation and two hard fought overtime periods.
Junior goalkeeper Emmett Rutkowski had four saves for the Eagles, while Salisbury’s Greg Wellighoff converted two saves.
“We kept it in perspective of the conference standings. You always want to win, but be it against Marymount or Salisbury, we needed two positive results,” Coach Roy Gordon said. “Winning against Marymount gives us a bye on Sunday and home field on Wednesday.”
With Saturday’s tie and Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Marymount University, the Eagles improved to 9-4-3 overall and 5-1-2 in conference play, clinching second place in the Capital Athletic Conference and securing a playoff berth.
Gordon was very clear in how to prepare for Saturday’s high-stakes rivalry game.
“Honestly, we let that take care of itself,” Gordon said. “The guys know that it’s an important game. We know what we need to take care of. We trained very hard for this.”
“We absolutely feed off the crowd’s energy,” Gordon said. “We knew Salisbury was a competitive team. Our two teams are very alike. There’s always going to be so much emotion in a game like this, so getting revved by the crowd is so big.”
By clinching second place in the conference, Mary Washington achieved a first round-bye in the conference playoffs, which start Nov. 2. The Eagles will now have the luxury of resting their players until the semifinal round Nov. 5, where they will face one of the winners of the quarterfinal match up.
“You play until you lose,” Gordon said. “You always want the conference championship, and we go into every season knowing we can get to the conference finals.”
Mary Washington takes the field again in a home game at the Battlegrounds on Wednesday, Oct 5. They will face the winner of the Salisbury/Marymount contest at a time to be announced later.