On a cold Saturday afternoon Springfield college men’s soccer took on Clark University at Brock-Affleck field in the semifinals of the NEWMAC tournament. The Pride came into the game looking to advance to its second straight NEWMAC championship.
The Pride used an early goal from sophomore forward Dexter Tenn and a strong defensive effort to defeat the Clark University Cougars 3-2 and advance to its second straight NEWMAC championship.
“We really just wanted to compete and play our game and our system, and we did that at times but it just wasn’t consistent,” said Clark assistant coach Kenn Fryar after the loss. “We competed well, we just have to find ways to progress and find ways to get better for next year because Springfield’s not going anywhere.”
The Pride started off the game aggressively and physical with the Cougars, getting six shots on goal throughout the first half. The Pride found the back of the net early at the 5:58 mark when forward Dexter Tenn scored on a pass from senior Danny Murphy.
The Pride’s defense was stifling for most of the first half, but Clark’s Sean Munroe scored on a penalty kick at 23:22 after a foul was committed by Springfield.
The rest of the first half Springfield failed to capitalize on the many opportunities they had to score, perhaps their best opportunity coming at the 20:07 mark. Junior Brad Deckel was awarded a penalty shot after being fouled and shot the ball towards the bottom left corner of the net, but Clark goalie Connor Maguire made an excellent save.
The Pride went into the half tied at at 1-1 with the Cougars. When the second half started the Pride came out aggressive and Deckel found the back of the net only 12 minutes into the second half at the 57:53 mark.
At the 72:28 mark Tenn, who scored the first goal for the Pride, was given his fourth yellow card of the season after a physical battle for the ball with a player.
“It was my mistake,” said Tenn. “The passion of the game kind of drives you over the edge sometimes.”
Even with this foul the momentum clearly had shifted in the Pride’s favor and the men were playing fast and with confidence. At the 74:25 mark junior Keon Haji scored on a free kick pass from Stewart Frank, giving the Pride a commanding 3-1 lead.
The Cougars made the game interesting late when sophomore forward Evan Jurkowski scored a header right above Frank with 3:50 remaining. The Cougars however, were unable to score another goal.
The Pride will play the winner of WPI and Coast Guard at Brock-Affleck field at 1 p.m. on Sunday in the NEWMAC championship.