Bears extend unbeaten streak with road victory

| Sports Reporter

The Washington University men’s soccer team may still be looking to improve this season, but its performance in the first four games have proven to be a fine start.

With a 3-0 win over Rhodes College on Saturday night in Memphis, Tenn., the Bears have moved to 4-0 on the season and are outscoring their opponents 8-2 so far.

Senior forward Dylan Roman scored in his third straight game, coming in the 36th minute against the Lynx, already eclipsing the two he scored all of last year.

“[Senior] Kevin Privalle broke down the left-hand side, and he cut past the defender and crossed it in,” Roman said. “I gave a little shake-and-bake to my defender and cut in front of him and just volleyed it in.”

Aside from his new neon yellow cleats, Roman attributes his move from outside midfielder to forward and the increased number of crosses to his increased tally this season.

“I’m in the box a lot more, and I’ve had a lot more chances to score than in years past,” he said. “People have just [been] playing good balls into the middle, and I’m lucky enough to finish them.”

Head coach Joe Clarke has been using his leading scorer in a substitute’s role: Roman has played in all four games, but not started in any.

“I guess what happens is I come on later in the games, when the other teams are tired, and I’m supposed to run past them and score,” Roman said. “As long as I keep doing that it’s good, as long as it’s good for the team.”

Despite a six goal differential, the Bears have not been satisfied with the score lines of their first four games. Backline communication and finishing chances are two areas the team wants to improve upon.

“We have dominated most games, but we’ve struggled in breaking down defenses in the final third,” senior co-captain Cody Costakis said. “Some of it has been a lack of finishing, but I think more so we haven’t made ourselves quality scoring chances.”

However, Costakis believes the Bears did show improvement in the final third against Rhodes.

Converted center back Brian Wright, a junior, has been growing more comfortable in his new role alongside fellow midfield convert junior Kenji Kobayashi.

“We’re pretty close and really good friends,” Wright said. “He can yell at me, and I can take it, I can yell at him, and he can take it.”

Both Kobayashi and Wright feel more comfortable on the ball than many center backs because of their experience playing up-front and in the middle. This fits in well with the possession-oriented mentality of the team as whole.

“Some teams will just kick it long and chase after it and they’re more athletic and not as skilled,” Wright said. “But we just try to ping the ball and keep the ball. We have possession much more then the other teams do.”

Despite the new backline and dissatisfaction with creating and finishing the chances, the Bears moved up 12 spots in the national rankings from No. 19 to No. 7 during the first week of the season.

“We all really want to do something special,” White said. “We’ve seen what we could do last year, we made the tournament and had an unlucky break. This year I think we can [do] just as good and even better.”

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