The sun wasn’t the only thing shining on Brock-Affleck Field Saturday afternoon. Springfield College Men’s Soccer team was too, as they picked up a convincing victory in the NEWMAC opener, 7-1, against Emerson. The Pride have now won eight in a row against the Lions dating back to 2013.
Late in the first half with the game knotted up at one, Pride senior captain Jack Rosenberg delivered a blistering strike from well past the 18. It blazed by Lions goalie Jacob Ramer, and nestled its way into the top right corner of the goal, putting Springfield ahead for good and giving them a swing of momentum that would carry on for the rest of the game.
“I got the ball from (Derick Arhin) who was on the left side, and when I looked up I had a lot of space in the middle,” Rosenberg recalled. “I heard three or four people yell at me to shoot, so I just took a good shot. We talked about that before the game, just get a lot of shots on goal.”
Emerson struck first after a defensive standoff that lasted nearly the first 25 minutes of game time, with each team only generating one shot on goal apiece. Lions freshman Emmett Biewald received a timely through ball from sophomore Ben Deeming, and angled a shot past Pride goalie Clay Knibbs to get the scoring started.
“I was a little hesitant when I came out (to challenge the through ball),” Knibbs admitted. “I saw it coming right away, I should’ve just been more aggressive and made my decision sooner.”
Knibbs did not see much action following the goal, as the Springfield defense, anchored by junior Pat Silva and senior captain Jack Costa, gobbled up every small chance Emerson was able to create. Knibbs finished the game with one save, facing just two shots the entire day.
Springfield struck back, evening the game at one on a redirection goal from sophomore Thomas Sojka. Junior Ethan Boileau took the original shot, but Sojka noticed an opportunity to catch Ramer off guard, so he stuck his right foot out and completely changed the direction of the ball, sneaking it by Ramer in the 37th minute.
Rosenberg struck five minutes later, and Springfield took a 2-1 lead into half.
“We wanted to show an aggressive energy to get to the goal,” said Pride head coach Tommy Crabill of his game plan. “It’s been a work in progress since the preseason, but we’re building on momentum and confidence.”
That momentum and confidence certainly came alive, as did the Pride’s aggressive energy to get to the goal, and because of that, the match was not close for much longer thanks to monstrous second halves from junior Aiden Casinghino and sophomore Finn Welch.
Sophomore defender Jack Habersaat anticipated and intercepted an Emerson pass on the left sideline, and dribbled the ball in stride up the field. Noticing Welch making a run on the far side, Habersaat sent a perfectly placed cross right on Welch’s foot, who took one touch and buried a goal in the bottom left corner.
Not even four minutes passed before Welch and the Pride were celebrating again, as Boileau picked up his second assist on another flawless cross.
Casinghino put his stamp on the game during the last 22 minutes, putting up three unanswered goals. He always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, which led him to a hat trick.
Boileau and Casinghino were huge keys to success for Springfield, both coming off the bench. This was no surprise to Crabill, who is well aware of the strong depth on his team.
“It’s definitely a strong group of guys that all want to contribute. They train with passion, and we’re training at the level that we want to, there are a lot of players on this team that can consistently contribute. Seeing the energy off the bench today was really positive, and it feeds into the culture that we want,” remarked Crabill
Rosenberg and his crew of midfielders controlled the pace and tempo throughout the entirety of the match, and Springfield was able to dominate time of possession because of that.
“During our last game we didn’t really have the ball a lot,” Rosenberg began. “It was an emphasis coming into today to move the ball from side to side and keep possession instead of trying to play it through so much. We tried to be patient and wait for the right opportunity to attack.”
An all-around team effort culminated quite the win for Springfield Men’s Soccer today, resulting in their first home victory of the season. The Pride return to the pitch Wednesday evening at 7:00 when they host Williams College in a non-conference bout.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics