Soccer celebrates senior day

| Sports reporter

The Washington University men’s soccer team finished the regular season strong with a 2-1 double-overtime victory over the University of Chicago on Saturday afternoon at Francis Field.

Prior to the start of the game, the University honored the Bears’ seven seniors, who played their final game at Francis Field. Head Coach Joe Clarke then honored the seniors, who in their four years at Wash. U. helped the Bears to a 48-21-9 (.673) record and two NCAA tournament appearances, by starting all seven of them.

“These seniors were all really good players,” Clarke said. “It was great to be able to [start them all].”

Appropriately, it was two of those seniors who gave the Red and Green an early 1-0 lead. In the eighth minute, mid fielder Eric Hill lofted a pass from 30 yards out into the box, which found mid fielder and co-captain Kevin Brege. Brege jumped and deflected the ball past Chicago goalkeeper Chris Giusto for his first goal of the season and the fifth of his career.

“It felt so good [scoring],” Brege said. “I had a bit of bad luck finishing recently, but it felt great to get that out of the way in the beginning.”

“That meant a lot to all the seniors,” senior co-captain Marshall Plow said. “He had a tough season battling injury but he stepped through and led by experience.”

Chicago tied the game with fewer than two minutes remaining before halftime when junior forward Edgar Friloux drilled a shot from 35 yards out that slipped through the hands of senior goalkeeper Ryan Kruse and into the net. The goal was Friloux’s third of the season.

Junior goalkeeper John Smelcer replaced Kruse at halftime, and the Bears’ defense clamped down, allowing the Maroons just one shot in the game’s final 58 minutes after allowing seven in the first half. The Red and Green out-shot Chicago 10-8 for the game.

After a scoreless second half and first overtime period, Wash. U. finally broke through in the fourth minute of the second overtime. Junior forward John Hengel sent a long through ball that found freshman forward Pat-rick McLean in the Chicago box, and McLean lofted a shot over Giusto for his fourth goal of the season. The team then piled on McLean in celebration of its 2-1 victory.

“It was awesome [getting a win for the seniors],” McLean said. “Especially when all of them started the pile. I couldn’t really breathe, but it was awesome.”

“It felt so good [getting a win on Senior Day],” Brege said. “We had a tough run of things recently, so it was really nice for us morally to end the sea-son on a good note.”

With the win and Case Western Reserve University’s 3-2 loss to UAA co-champion Rochester University on Saturday, Wash. U. finished the sea-son fourth in the UAA standings with a 4-3-0 conference record. Despite being nationally ranked for much of the season, losses to Rochester and Case Western last weekend leave the Bears a long shot for making the NCAA Tournament.

“The season had its ups and downs, but I’m proud of us,” Plow said. “A lot of people didn’t think we could be this good this year and compete [after] losing three of our seniors last year, but we kept it going, and most importantly, we kept the Wash. U. culture going.”

“I’m disappointed that we’re not a guarantee to get into the playoffs. If we get in I feel like we have a shot,” Clarke added.

The Bears, who finished the season with a 12-5-1 (4-3-0 UAA) record, will find out Monday at 8 a.m. if they made the tournament when the NCAA announces the field.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.