Men’s Soccer: Bears sustain disappointing loss at feet of Emory
It appeared in recent weeks that the Washington University men’s soccer team was hitting a comfortable mid-season stride.
Then came Sunday.
Looking for a 2-0 start in league play, the 11th-ranked Bears traveled to Emory for a key contest with the 12th-ranked Golden Eagles.
Though optimistic when heading into the match, the Red and Green boarded the plane back to St. Louis with a disappointing 3-0 defeat and a new sense of urgency with just five games to go in the ever-brief UAA slate. The squad’s national ranking fell to 23rd.
An inauspicious beginning to this Sunday’s game led to a frustrating end. The visitors never found their rhythm at the outset and gave up two late goals to Emory’s counterattack. The final score hardly indicated the intensity and closeness of the game, and Wash. U.’s players were disheartened by the result.
“Nobody on our team had a particularly strong game and this was one of the problems. We came out a little flat, made some bad mistakes and just could not catch a break the whole game,” said Elie Zenner, a senior captain.
Emory took advantage of an early goal from Joey Howie, who scored on a pass from Patrick McFarland just under 10 minutes into the action. From there, the Golden Eagles continued to put pressure on Wash. U. sophomore goalkeeper John Smelcer throughout the first half.
Despite the barrage of shots on goal, Smelcer and the Bears defense held steady and Wash. U. trailed by just the one tally at halftime.
In the second half, the visitors went on the attack, outshooting Emory by an 8-5 margin, which included a number of decent chances. But a plethora of questionable offside calls against the Bears continually offset the team’s momentum and the guests failed to find the back of the net.
Wash. U. nearly found pay dirt in the game’s 76th minute, but a shot attempt by Eric Hill on a free kick was deflected by the Emory goalie, preserving the shutout.
“It seemed like every bounce, every intangible, went Emory’s way,” said Zenner, who also noted his displeasure with the officiating.
Ultimately, the opposition’s aggressive second-half strategy led to a pair of Emory goals, both of which came in the game’s waning minutes as Wash. U. had sent most of its players forward on the attack.
Emory points leader Patrick Carver assisted on both scores, the first of which came off the toe of Jack Eisen-Markowitz, while the latter was put home by McFarland.
With the loss, the Bears fell to 8-3-0 overall and 1-1 in league play. Emory is now 11-1-0 and 2-0 in conference.
Though Zenner believes Wash. U. can still contend for the league championship, he recognized that Sunday’s loss will make achieving that goal quite a bit more difficult.
“It was a very disappointing game and gives us a lot less leeway for the rest of the season,” he said. “It was a devastating loss, and this will be a real test of character and resilience for our team.”
For now though, Zenner and the rest of the squad are itching to get back on the pitch with the hope of quickly erasing the thought of Sunday’s result from their minds.
There is no rest for the weary, as Wash. U. looks to resume its run at a UAA title with two crucial league matches this coming weekend. The Bears play at NYU on Friday and then again at Brandeis on Sunday. Both squads are expected to present formidable challenges in their own right.
“Hopefully, our experience and leadership will carry us through. Right now, I think everyone just wants to get back on the field and get the taste of the Emory game out of our system.”
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