Weeks’ injuries hinder Bears’ offense in 0-0 tie
Coming off a pair of impressive performances against Millsaps College and Rhodes College over the weekend of Sept. 3, the Washington University men’s soccer team entered this past week’s games with significant momentum. Having easily defeated Millsaps 3-0 and tying a strong Rhodes squad 2-2, the Bears showed off a revamped offense and considerable young talent.
But against across-the-street rivals Fontbonne University, it was the veterans that took control of the game. Considered to be a traditionally weak side, Fontbonne came into Francis Field with something to prove. And they certainly gave the Bears all they could handle.
In the very early going, the game was very open for both teams. Both the Bears and Fontbonne traded scoring opportunities at either end. Junior goalkeeper Matt Fenn came up with two big saves from point-blank shots that kept the Bears even with Fontbonne in the first 10 minutes of play.
However, the Bears kept up the pressure and were able to tally the game’s first goal in the 16th minute. After sophomore forward Marshall Plow’s initial shot was blocked, senior forward Rob Weeks drilled a shot from close range just under the crossbar to give the team a 1-0 lead.
After their first goal, the Bears continued to attack strong, but were unable to find any offensive inspiration. This was likely a result of Andrew Franklin’s absence, as the speedy senior forward went down early with a groin injury. Bright spots for the Bears included sophomore holding midfielder Elie Zenner, who provided a few hard tackles and distributed the ball well, and freshman Ben Ryugo, who showed considerable speed and skill off the bench.
Fontbonne looked dangerously close to scoring on multiple occasions. However, the Bears managed to make it to the halftime without conceding anything. But Fontbonne came out recharged in the second half and was able to find the net on a well-designed free kick in the 47th minute. The Fontbonne goal scorer was able to volley the ball just past Fenn’s outstretched hands to knot the game at 1-1.
Both teams failed to score in the last 40 minutes of play, so they went into sudden death overtime. Fontbonne threatened early, but it was Weeks who eventually provided the game-winning goal for the Bears in the 96th minute. Taking a pass from sophomore midfielder Matt Hemphill, senior defender Seth Schreiber made a dashing run down the sideline and saw his perfect low cross tipped in by Weeks.
After escaping with a close victory, the Bears looked to turn in a more solid offensive performance against Westminster College on Sat., Sept 7. Having drawn one of the best student turnout in years after their dramatic win, the Bears appeared energized and ready to come out with an easy victory. Historically, the Bears have had little trouble dispatching of Westminister.
But disaster struck when an injury to Weeks in the first 15 minutes of the game changed everything. Going up for a header in the offensive third of the field, Weeks collided in midair with a Westminster player and was taken off the field injured. In an unfortunate turn for the worst, the Bears’ leading scorer in two of the past three seasons had broken three bones in his face; an injury that would require surgery, probably spelling the end of Weeks’ season and collegiate career.
The Bears never seemed to recover from the loss of their go-to scorer, and faltered offensively throughout much of the game. The match would end 0-0 without many chances for either side as goalkeeper Fenn notched his second shutout of the season.
Now the big question for the Bears is how they will recover from the loss of two veteran strikers in Weeks and Franklin. Franklin’s groin will likely keep him out for several more weeks, and what once looked like a promising new-look Bears offense now looks rather suspect.
But with a Wednesday match-up against a mediocre team in Principia College, the Bears will have another game to figure out what to do offensively before the more competitive portion of their schedule begins.
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