M. soccer rebounds after a sluggish opener

Monday, September 8, 2008

The men’s soccer team kicked off its season this weekend at the Adidas-Brown Classic. The No. 12 Bears opened up play Friday night with a 1-0 loss against No. 22 St. John’s and followed up with a 2-0 win against Villanova on Sunday.

The game on Friday night drew a huge crowd thanks to a campus-wide barbecue and curious first-years, but the extra cheering and crowd support could not push the Bears past the Red Storm. At the end of the first half of play the game remained scoreless, but St. John’s forward Adam Himeno scored the game’s only goal in the 72nd minute, when he shot the ball past the reach of goalkeeper Paul Grandstrand ’11.

The Bears had many more opportunities to tie up the score, doubling St. John’s shots on goal, six to three.

“Our passing and concentration weren’t good enough,” said Head Coach Mike Noonan. “We didn’t play to win the game. We deserved the result.”

With one more game left in the Classic, the Bears had to put the loss behind them and come out to play Sunday against Villanova.

The Bears struck early when midfielder Nick Elenz-Martin ’10 scored off of a rebound in the 14th minute, with the goal assisted by M David Walls ’11 and defender Rhett Bernstein ’09. M Jon Okafor ’11 followed up with another goal in the very next minute of play.

Many substitutions were made during the game after the team pulled out to an early 2-0 lead.

“We wanted the opportunity to look at them and see if they could handle the big game,” Noonan said.

Subs came in on both sides of the ball as some of the starters returned to the lineup periodically. With all of the new bodies on the field, the defense stayed strong and the team pulled away with the victory. The Wildcats outshot the Bears, 19-13, but failed to connect on any of their attempts.

“We make it a point to never lose two games in a row,” Elenz-Martin said. “We had more energy and were attacking well today.”

Jarrett Leech ’09 made five saves in his season debut in goal and was named to the Brown Classic All-Tournament Team, earning Defensive MVP honors. Evan Coleman ’12 was also named to the All-Tournament team, making a strong showing in his collegiate debut.

Despite ending the weekend on a high note, Noonan believes the team has a long way to go. With a number of away games ahead on the schedule, Noonan says the team must be more focused and ready to go for every game.

The Bears head to South Carolina for the Nike/Aaron Olitsky Memorial Soccer Classic next weekend, where they will take on Furman on Friday at 5 p.m. and Charleston on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. They will next return to Stevenson Field on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m., when they will face the University of Rhode Island.

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