Men’s soccer blanks UW-Whitewater

| Staff Reporter
A soccer player wearing a white jersey with a red number 18 chases after a soccer ball as a player in a blue uniform with a gold stripe chases after him.

Sophomore back Rabee Haidari gives chase to a ball against North Park earlier this month. (Photo by Curran Neenan | Student Life)

The Washington University men’s soccer team got the better of an undefeated University of Wisconsin-Whitewater squad on Friday night with a final score of 2-0, moving the Bears’ record to 6-1 on the season. 

Having yet to lose a game this season, Whitewater came in hot and ready to play against the Bears. In the first few minutes of the game, both teams exchanged shots and headers to test the goalies, but WashU dominated most of the possession. It was a foul in the 27th minute on junior Sergio Rivas inside Wisconsin-Whitewater penalty that broke the deadlock; the calm and collected senior Armando Sanchez-Conde stepped up to take the penalty and slotted into the bottom left corner to make it 1-0 for the Bears. 

Despite WashU’s lead, the Warhawks did not let the Bears forget why they were yet to be beaten this season. In the 28th minute, not long after Sanchez broke the deadlock, the Warhawks unluckily hit the post, with the ball not far away from finding WashU net. They had a few other shots in the first half, but senior goalkeeper Matt Martin put his saving abilities to work.

The second half brought the same competitive energy as the first half; three minutes in, Rivas found himself one-on-one with the Warhawks goalkeeper but was disappointed to see his goal denied by a heroic goal line clearance by a Whitewater defender. As the game continued, both teams battled fearlessly, with both trading a few shots on target. But it was not until the 73rd minute, when sophomore Owen Culver, assisted by junior Julian Gancman, shot a ridiculous strike from outside the 18-yard box to make it 2-0 for WashU.

After the game, head coach Joe Clarke acknowledged the quality Wisconsin-Whitewater brought to Francis Field. “They were very big and as soon as they got the ball in your penalty area, they threw everything,” he said. “The team did a good job against that.” 

Clarke highlighted the performance of Martin, who recorded six saves and yet another shoutout, his fourth of the year. Martin did a “really good job collecting crosses and punching a few balls out,” Clarke said. He also praised Gancman’s performance in the win. “It was his first game back, and he [was] such a good player. It was really apparent how good he is and how much he added to our team when he came on the field.”  

The players themselves had a few words to say after the game. “It was a big game for us,” Culver said. “We wanted to have a lot of momentum coming into it. So we knew we had to come out, and that it was going to be a battle. So we came out pretty well, and it was nice to get the two goals in.”

Martin added that, as the team will now be focusing on conference games, the win moves them in a positive direction. “For us to have a really solid showing against a team like that, it’s going to boost our confidence going into conference [games],” he said. 

The Bears return to action as they face UAA rival University of Rochester away this Saturday.

Get to know what student-athletes say makes the program special: 

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‘I couldn’t be prouder as a coach’: How members of the track team helped each other overcome quarantine hurdles

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