Undefeated Bears hang on to beat Loras

| Sports Editor

Freshman Michael Flowers kicks the ball | Soccer

Freshman Michael Flowers kicks the ball on Sunday in a game against Loras College.

Division III powerhouse Loras College was the most recent victim of the undefeated Washington University men’s soccer team. With the 1-0 victory, the Red and Green improved to 5-0-2 and a perfect 2-0 on Francis Field.

The Loras Duhawks have appeared in the NCAA championship semifinals twice in the last four seasons, and they opened the 2010 season ranked seventh in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America top-25 poll, though the team is now unranked. Late last season, the Bears lost to the Duhawks in Dubuque, Iowa.

“It’s always good to beat a really good team, and Loras is a really good team,” head coach Joe Clarke said. “They’re one of the most successful Division III programs over the last half a decade.”

The Bears took the lead early and fought the rest of the game to maintain the 1-0 advantage. Less than five minutes into the match, a Duhawk foul set up a free kick by senior midfielder Cody Costakis. His pass found junior Patrick McLean in the middle of the box, and McLean knocked the ball past the keeper for his third goal of season. McLean, junior Kevin Privalle and sophomore Zachary Query lead the team with three goals scored.

“They told me to run ‘Johnny Hengel’s spot,’ which is like the back post,” McLean said in reference to last season’s leading scorer. “I ran there and [the defender] flicked it, but he didn’t get a good clearance. It was right in my path…[I] just volleyed it in.”

Junior Patrick McLean dribbles the ball | Soccer

Junior Patrick McLean dribbles the ball against Loras College. McLean scored his third goal for the season on Sunday, putting him in a three-way tie for the team lead with sophomore Zachary Query and junior Kevin Privalle.

The Bears controlled offensive possession for most of the first half. In the first 45 minutes, the Red and Green bested Loras 5-1 in shots and 2-1 in corner kicks. The Duhawks threatened with a shot in the 16th minute, but senior goalie Andrew Serio made a sliding save to protect the Bears’ lead. Serio shared time in goal with freshman Jonathan Jebson; the two goalies have allowed just two goals this season.

“We defended our penalty area well; Jonathan came out and caught balls that he needed to catch, just like Andrew did in the first half,” Clarke said. “I don’t really believe they got a legitimate, good chance to score a goal in the game, so I think we did a good job in the box.”

The Duhawks improved their attack in the second half, forcing the Bears out of their passing element.

“[Clarke] has really drilled into our heads the habit of defending the area in front of the goal; they had us down the wings several times, but we just defended the goal,” Costakis said. “We didn’t give up any easy shots.”

Clarke noted that the Bears also missed offensive opportunities. The team had multiple chances at an insurance goal after McLean’s initial score.

“I think we need to take more advantage of the counters that we have,” Clarke said. “We ran offsides probably four or five times, and we had a chance to create a good chance to score.”

Despite second-half frustrations, the team came away from Sunday’s game with a positive reaction to one of the most challenging teams it has faced this season.

“[The game] could have gone better, but we beat a good team, so I’m happy. It’s that simple,” Costakis said.

In a Sept. 15 matchup with Illinois Wesleyan University, the Bears defended their unbeaten record with a late goal by Costakis to tie the Titans as the game approached the end of regulation. In the two subsequent overtime periods, neither team was able to break the 1-1 draw.

“The tie mid-week was disappointing because we just got into the rankings; it would be nice to keep that, but we’re still undefeated, so it’s certainly worth hanging on to,” Costakis said.

The Red and Green are back in action tonight at Fontbonne University at 7 p.m. and travel to Wheaton, Ill., to face Wheaton College on Saturday afternoon.

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