The Mary Washington men’s soccer team was involved in a battle of the birds last Thursday, as the Eagles hosted the Catholic University Cardinals at the Battlegrounds. The home Eagles came out victorious, edging Catholic 2-1.
Within the first 10 minutes, forward Ian Smith scored the Cardinals’ lone goal. Twenty-six minutes later, UMW senior forward T.L. Tutor put the Eagles on the scoreboard to tie the game at one apiece. In the first half, the Eagles attempted six shots, and the Cardinals attempted five.
“The second half had much more energy,” said head coach Roy Gordon. “The first half [we were] just going through the motions.”
Both teams committed five fouls in the first half, but UMW played with more aggression in the second half, as they were called for 10 fouls and Catholic was called for seven.
The Eagles returned to play after halftime with determination. Tutor, assisted by junior mid-fielder Bram Sims, scored the Eagles’ second goal within the first five minutes after the break to give the Eagles a lead they would not relinquish.
“T.L. had two great goals,” coach Gordon said. “He made something out of nothing.”
Catholic’s defense prevented the Eagles from attempting any other shots, but their offense could not capitalize on their three attempted shots. The Eagles are off to a strong start this season, with an overall record of 5-0-1.
“This was a big game, and we haven’t beaten them in a couple years,” said sophomore mid-fielder Smith Norton. “We haven’t lost since Howard. We have to take it one game at a time.”
The Eagles changed their mindset in the second half, not allowing their first half struggles to get to them, but putting those mistakes behind them to focus on the final 30 minutes of play.
“We could’ve come out stronger to not let in an easy goal,” said senior mid-fielder Ryan Taibl. “[As the game went on] we played much better and picked up the intensity and level of play.”
Overall, CU took nine corner kicks compared to UMW’s three. Despite the Eagles’ lack of corner kicks, CU made no saves the entire game. Eagles junior goalkeeper Hunter Wootten made three saves to prevent the Cardinals from overcoming the one goal deficit.
The Eagles players and coaches believe they possess strong, talented players and just need to put all that skill together to form a strong and unified team.
“It became a team effort,” coach Gordon said. “It was the first time in five games that the team came together and played for one another. That was the best thing. The team was a group.”
Tutor also believes that the team came together in the second half. “We started working together as a team,” he said. “Sometimes, it takes a little bit to get going.”
The Eagles have a tough season ahead of them. Fellow CAC soccer powerhouses, Salisbury University and St. Mary’s College of Maryland, are on the schedule later in the season, and UMW knows that they still have work ahead of them.
“We’re going to be playing much better teams, so we have to play 90 minutes like we did that second half,” said Tutor. “And we have to play like we know how to play. People have to stay focused and confident.”
The Eagles grinded out a 2-0 win against St. Mary’s College of Maryland yesterday, Sept. 21 to add another win to the UMW record. Junior Brad Sims and senior
T.L. Tutor scored the goals for the Eagles to help improve UMW to 6-0-1 on the season and 2-0 in the conference.
UMW battles the Messiah College Falcons at home on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 3:30 p.m.