By Danny Priest
SPRINGFIELD – A power outage on campus, the announcement of a remodeling of Gulick Hall and Springfield football losing a game at home. These are all things that have happened on campus since Springfield College men’s soccer team played a game at home.
On Saturday afternoon, after four road games and 20 days in between home games, the Pride returned for a contest on Brock-Affleck field. Springfield had a NEWMAC conference matchup against Clark University.
On paper, Clark came in as the favorites. They owned an 8-1 record, they had scored 40 goals over their first nine games, and they were allowing only 0.35 goals per game. On Saturday though, it was the Pride (7-3) who defended their home turf and came away with a 2-0 victory over the Cougars.
“They’re a really well coached opponent, great attacking soccer, and defending soccer,” head coach Tommy Crabill said of Clark. “They’ve scored a boat load of goals this year, we’re really fortunate to have kept them off the scoreboard. We’re really happy to compete against a team like that. We battled through a lot of tough moments, I’m proud of them.”
Springfield was carried in this game by freshman Andrew Ma, who exploded for two goals in the second half to lift his team to victory.
The first decisive moment of the game came with 31:18 to go in the second half. Springfield’s Emmanuel Agyemang advanced a pass over to Ma. The freshman corralled the pass, lofted up a shot, and it found the back of the net to give Springfield a 1-0 lead.
The goal was Ma’s second of the season. “I was on the left side of the field and I wanted to get more involved, so I started drifting in,” Ma said. “That’s when I saw Emmanuel with the ball, so I made a run cutting across behind the defenders. He found me, I got it, I couldn’t get it out of my feet in time so I toe-poked it, and it ended up finding the back of the net.
Ma has been effective this season with his aggressive play style and technical skills. Agyemang, who came in as a substitute in this game, also scored in Springfield’s previous game against Wentworth.
The duo has stepped up their play, and are earning the trust of Crabill.
“We have the ability to attack in a lot of different ways and those guys have some really strong technical tools,” Crabill said. “I’m really happy when it comes into the game, today was one of those games where they could bring it in.”
Ma added another goal with 10 seconds to go in the game. The Pride got an odd man rush and Christian Schneider passed to Adrian Avellaneda, he then found Ma for his second one, a chip shot just before the final horn.
“As soon as I saw Christian play that ball, I was kind of just lingering around the box waiting for a rebound,” Ma said. “I saw the keeper was very far out and I decided to chip it.”
Ma has totaled three goals and two assists this season, for a total of eight points. Agyemang has two goals and one assists, totaling five points. Both players are seeing their first extended action as members of the Pride, and they have made the most of their chances.
The game was also a strong showing for Springfield’s defense. Clark came in having scored 40 goals in five games, and in six of their nine games this season they had scored five goals or more.
With their aggressive style of defense, Springfield contained the Cougars attack. Clark only recorded three shots on goal for the entire game, and the Pride played a clean game limiting Clark to just four corner kicks.
“It’s important for us to keep tight shape against opponents like that,” Crabill said. “They can pass around you if you get stretched out, so for us to be in really disciplined shape, with two lines, and keeping the wholes small for them to pass through.”
The win marked Springfield’s first home win this season. That may seem tough to believe over a month in and with the team sitting at 7-3, but it is a product of the schedule with this being only the team’s second home game.
Up next Springfield plays host to Framingham State on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. That game is a non conference matchup, and the Rams will come to Alden street with a 6-3-2 record. Springfield will look to make it two in a row at home, and three wins in a row overall, on Tuesday night.
Featured photo courtesy of Gage Nutter