Tying sixth in the country, Washington and Lee gave the Captains Men’s Soccer team a reason to remember the twenty-first night of September
The Men’s soccer team hosted nationally ranked #6 Washington and Lee University Saturday night in a tightly contested matchup. The Captains had gone into overtime in each of their previous three contests, going the full distance and resulting in a double overtime draw for two of those matchups. Coming into Saturday night, the Generals had only lost one of their seven games, winning the others, which vaulted them into the top ten in the national rankings highlighted by a goal differential of +12 (19 goals for, 7 against). Immediately the game started at a fast pace. #33 Daniel Hulett came sliding in with a strong challenge on an opposing Generals player and was shown a cautionary yellow card just under 90 seconds after the kickoff. A pair of errant shots from #25 Lincoln Kickbush and #19 Michael Wilson left #1 Michael Nyc of Washington and Lee untested. The teams would alternate on attack for the ensuing sequences starting with a shot on goal by #29 Will Collins, which was saved by Nyc. Washington and Lee quickly marched back down to the other side and earned a corner kick. The Captains defense held their ground, spurred a counterattack and tried their luck from a corner kick. #9 Colin McMunn tried to give the Captains the early lead, but his attempt landed wide of the goal. Momentum would swing back in favor of the visitors as they looked to challenge #27 Justin Piercy. Piercy faced back to back shots from #16 Jack Parham and was able to save both but would be tested with another corner kick. The following six minutes would see three more corner kicks for the Generals and two more shots that would be blocked. Then, Christopher Newport’s backline found their rhythm in dealing with the Washington and Lee attack, thwarting the next three attacks each with an offsides trap. Piercy would only have to make one more save during the rest of the first half with both goalkeepers maintaining their clean sheets through the first 45.
Opening the second half, the Captains got a taste of their own medicine, as this time it was their own attack that was on the receiving end of an offsides trap two times. The physicality of the game was not lost among the players during the halftime break. Two more cautionary yellow cards were handed out to #24 Gabo Caicedo of the Captains and the other to #21 Connor Wharton from the visiting side. Unphased by the yellow card, Wharton stepped up to take a free kick for the Generals just outside the 18 yard box in the 56 minute. Piercy had no chance as Wharton expertly curved the ball around the wall and into the bottom left corner of the net for the first goal of the contest. The Captains looked to respond, but it seemed like nearly every chance they had was quickly snuffed out as the Generals looked to escape Captains Field with a slim one-goal victory through strong defensive efforts. The Captains defense stayed firm, turning away any attacks. Between the 66 and 78 minute mark, a total of 10 changes were made on the side of the Captains in hopes of scoring a tying goal in the dying minutes of regulation. The substitutions proved successful as the Captains won a free kick inside the Generals’ half of the field. The cross swung in, but the ball was turned away for a moment; however, Collins recovered and sent a cross over to the opposite goal post looking for #8 Ethan Larson. The service found Larson who was out of position and unable to put it on target, so with a quick bit of thinking, he crossed it back over the goal mouth to a surging #7 Justin Wilson who sent home a power header past Nyc to equalize with just over 10 minutes remaining. The rest of regulation found both teams playing conservatively, with neither of the two comfortable enough to bring an attack up the field. During the overtime period, seven shots were taken between both sides, but with no success. The Captains would settle for a draw, a strong showing against the #6 team in the country.
~Austin Urch, Staff Writer~