Freshman, defense show up big for new coach Chezem
New Season? Check. New Coach? Check. Winning games? Check and double check.
The Men’s soccer team showed up strong at the renamed Steve Shaw Classic to kick off their season, beating Greensboro College and Whitman College 4-0 and 3-1, respectively. The team, sporting new jerseys and new players, balanced a strong attack with a solid defense throughout the weekend. New head coach Justin Chezem picked up his first win and his first shutout against Greensboro. Christopher Newport wasted no time showing off their offense, scoring within the first six minutes of the match off the foot of #22 Joshua Niblo, a midfielder in his junior year.
#31 Derek Cook, in addition to maintaining his reputation as a stalwart defender in his senior year, picked up a pair of assists soon after. First, Cook threw a long ball into the box to be headed in by #8 Ethan Larson. Soon after, Cook penetrated up through the midfield of Greensboro and drove a pass to sophomore forward #25 Lincoln Kickbush. Kickbush delivered the opportunity, beating the goalie and bringing Christopher Newport up 3-0. The second half appeared to be more of the same, as the Captains scored again within a few minutes of play. #29 Will Collins added his name to the score sheet off an assist from fellow sophomore #36 Cory Hogge.
Although they didn’t score, several freshman also stood out for their first game. #23 Jacob Dudley played 47 minutes of the contest as a defender. #11 Gabe Splett, #9 Colin McMunn and #40 Sam Dickinson all contributed to the strong midfield effort as well. Sunday’s match against Whitman College featured similar outcomes: good midfield ball control leading to strong attacking opportunities. With 17 shots (seven on target), Christopher Newport was bound to score, and score they did. #20 Jordan Boone, playing center midfield instead of his previous years’ forward position, looked right at home game two, creating multiple opportunities for the Captains, including the first goal of the game less than ten minutes into the match. Collins added his second goal of the season off Boone’s pass to put the Captains up 1-0 early on for the second straight game. Unlike against Greensboro College, Christopher Newport and Whitman were locked in a possession battle for the remainder of the half. Although the Captains entered halftime with more shots than Whitman, the stout back line of the Blues was enough to keep the score 1-0.
Freshman #4 Chris Garbarini made his case for a place on the team, scoring the second, and his first collegiate, goal around the 72nd minute. Sophomore #2 Harry Whittleton set him up for success and picked up an assist of his own. Despite letting in a goal of their own shortly after, the Captain’s defense buckled down and focused on possession. Their patience paid off as Niblo managed to find an opening and send a cross to #18 Davis Pillow, whose header bounced around the box and, much to his and everyone’s surprise, fell in for the final goal of the game.
The Blues of Whitman were unable to find another good opportunity within the last three minutes of play, and the score ended 3-1. Christopher Newport will hope to continue their hot start to the season on Wednesday, September 4, where they will host North Carolina Wesleyan College at 7 p.m. They will then play their next three games on the road against Gettysburg College, Trinity University and Hardin-Simmons University.
~Matthew Scherer, Editor-in-Chief~