Men’s and women’s soccer have big weekends

and | Contributing Reporters

Senior defender Alistair Shaw embraces a teammate after the Bears upset No. 12 North Park University 3-2. Photo by Emmett Campbell | Student Life

Men’s soccer off to best start in years

The Washington University men’s soccer team beat No. 12 North Park University on Saturday afternoon in a key matchup early in the season. A tenacious 3-2 win against the Vikings keeps the Bears undefeated as they improve to 4-0, their best record to start a season since 2016.

Two early first half goals, one a thunderous far left shot from senior John Daniels in the 10th minute assisted by Sergio Rivas and the other a delicious free kick by senior Owen Culver in the 18th minute, gave the Bears the lead they would hold until the final whistle sounded. 

The Vikings responded to WashU’s early fireworks, however, and in the 24th minute, a free kick cross from North Park’s Gustav Ericsson found the head of his teammate Oskar Safstrom, who put it into the right side of the net to tighten the score to 2-1.

Going into the second half, the game was fairly equal between the two sides. It was not until the 78th minute when the Bears managed to increase their lead to 3-1 courtesy of a rebounded goal by senior Armando Sanchez-Conde. The game remained 3-1 for the Bears until, in the 89th minute, Jesse Anamoo of North Park managed to pull one back for the visitors to bring the score to 3-2. Despite the late drama, WashU held on to clinch the victory. 

The victory for the Bears was not without its outstanding performances; Daniels stood out among them, registering two shots. Sanchez-Conde cemented himself in the midfield throughout the game and managed to score the Bears’ third goal of the game. After the game, head coach Joe Clarke had all the praise for him, saying “He worked his tail off and worked really hard [for the win].”

At the end of the whistle, Clarke acknowledged the “big, big, big win for the program” over their toughest opponent yet this season. “North Park mov[ed] the ball very well,” Clarke said. “They had more of it than we did.” 

But as much as North Park dominated possession, Clarke was very pleased with how “tight” the team defense was in nullifying the Vikings’ large possession. “They did a good job in creating counter attacks,” Clarke said of his backfield. “I think the three center backs did a really good job.” Clarke was particularly impressed by the performance of senior goalkeeper Matt Martin, who has acted as the sole goalkeeper in all four matches this season. 

The coach also lauded the performance of the midfielders, believing that they “all worked really hard” to ensure the team the win. He was also particularly proud of the performance of freshman Eugene Heger. “[He] did a good job in the front of the backs, distributing the ball and being in positions to challenge,” Clarke said.

The Bears look to extend their undefeated streak this Wednesday with a midweek matchup at Hope College before they take on Wheaton College at home on Saturday. 

 

Women’s soccer draws against Loras before routing Carthage

The same strategy wrought two vastly different results this weekend for the Washington University women’s soccer team as they took on Loras College and Carthage College at Francis Field. In Saturday’s match against Loras, after 90 minutes of grueling regulation, two 10-minute overtimes and several near misses for the Bears, the game remained scoreless, and the match ended in a 0-0 draw. The next day, however, the shots that could not find the back of the net against Loras fell in spades as the Bears trounced their way to a 7-1 victory over Carthage. 

With the draw and the win, the Bears moved to 2-0-1 on the season. 

Throughout the Saturday game, Loras utilized a strategy similar to what WashU saw from Fontbonne last weekend. 

“We have had two games, and both teams that we have played against have played back and just tried to counter us,” head coach Stephanie Gabbert said after the game. “I think [Loras] had a good strategy. They were trying to slow the game down, which they did at every opportunity. And they did that because we were the better opponent, so I can’t fault them for that.”

 “They did a very good job with that and it’s very frustrating to play against and it’s very frustrating to coach against, but we still have to be better than that and break them down,” Gabbert said.

Although neither team found a way to reach the back of the net, both teams found ways to generate quality scoring opportunities throughout the game. 

The Bears had one of their best scoring chances early in the second overtime period when senior midfielder Erin Flynn’s shot rang off the right goal post for the nearest miss of the afternoon. Flynn led the Bears on Saturday with five shots, and junior midfielders Jolie Carl and Sydney Essler both recorded three shots. The Bears outshot the Duhawks 19-4, with Loras failing to earn a shot during the overtime. “We did a lot of stuff that we wanted to do, but we didn’t finish when we needed to,” Gabbert said. “That’s a really important part of the game, and one that we have to get a lot better at.”

Gabbert was not shy about sharing her philosophy after her first game against Fontbonne. “If you don’t take your shots, it’s not going to go in,” she said. And if the Loras match showed the pitfalls of that strategy, Sunday’s blowout against Carthage showed the other side of the coin — an utter onslaught of offensive output.

The offensive display was particularly impressive when looking at the balance the Bears demonstrated to generate it; six players scored their seven goals, and five players recorded assists. No one WashU player could be hounded to stifle the movement of the ball, and the midfielders pushed down the field and created open shots with remarkable consistency. For a team with realistic goals of a national championship, such performances justify the lofty goals. 

WashU outshot Carthage 26-2 on the day, and aside from a breakaway goal in the 19th minute, the defense held solid and facilitated strong counter-attacks for the offense. Junior goalkeeper Katie Stender-Moore recorded her second win of the season. 

The early draw was not exactly what they had hoped for, but they will keep taking their shots; if Sunday is any indication, it is worth the risk. 

WashU will take on Millikin University this Wednesday on Francis Field at 7:30 p.m. 

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