By Kevin Saxe
The ball is placed on the penalty spot. Stepping up to take the penalty kick for the Pride was none other than Keith Dixon. Dixon, the Pride’s lone senior calmly stepped up to the spot. On the refs whistle Dixon coolly began his run up to the ball before burying the ball in the right side of the net, as Emerson goalie David Kemp dived left guessing the wrong way on the kick. For Dixon it was fitting that the first goal of his collegiate career came on the same day as his senior day in which he was the lone honoree. Dixon’s goal would make it 2-0 with 9:19 left in the first half of a game the Pride would go onto win 3-0 and keep their conference tournament hopes alive. Junior captain Garrett Ossolinski talked about Dixon and the role he’s played as the lone senior.
“Being the only senior he’s that role model that we all look up to. He’s like the man, the person we look to. We played for Keith today. That’s what we said at the beginning of the game. Today’s for Keith and we’re going to make it a good one.”
For the Pride the festivities of senior day got started before the game as Dixon was honored for his time on Alden Street. After struggling with injuries his first season Dixon has played 30 games and started 28 of them over the past two seasons. Last year he made 20 appearances and 18 starts for a team that went to the NCAA Tournament. Head men’s soccer coach Tommy Crabill talked about what Keith brought this season as well as today’s victory.
“He definitely been a leader for us. He’s been in that role all season. I know he’s got the players trust. I was really happy to see his performance today, especially after being out to injury. To get a goal and to have some good defending and attacking moments he’s a lockdown outside back defender and we’re happy to have him out there.”
For the Pride who were in a near must win situation to keep their chances alive at the NEWMAC tournament, they were able to get off to a fast start thanks to sophomores Jack Rosenberg and Andrew Ma. Rosenberg created the initial chance with a blast that Kemp stopped but the rebound couldn’t be contained and Andrew Ma was there to clean it up for his third goal of his sophomore campaign. The Pride would double their lead off the aforementioned Dixon penalty kick off of a Lion’s handball. Springfield nearly made it three with under a minute left but Kemp stopped Pride forward Joseph Olaynack on a one on one chance to keep the score at 2-0. Ossolinski talked about what worked so well for the Pride offensively.
“I think today was one of our more relaxed days. We kind of just sat in and passed the ball around and moved the ball. Everyone knew their job, everyone was able to do their job and we just felt comfortable out there and we were able to move forward on offense.”
Unlike the Pride’s other NEWMAC win a 2-1 defeat of Coast Guard where they would hold on by the skin of their teeth, the Pride were able to more comfortably win their second NEWMAC game. The Pride already up 2-0 and pressuring the goal in the second half would finally get the breakthrough in the half when Ma would slide a pass from the left side of the box to the other side to the waiting for of Ossolinski who would bury the shot for a 3-0 advantage with just over twenty minutes remaining.
Despite the score line for the Pride one of the underrated parts of the game was the play of freshmen goalie Clay Knibbs. Knibbs who although not as busy as his counterpart Kemp who made eight saves made the saves when he had to making four saves including a couple of point blank saves at different points in the second half. Crabill talked about Knibbs who’s seen action in the previous two games.
“He had one in the first half that he smothered amongst a lot of traffic which was a big moment. Our guys are comfortable with him and that’s because he’s been training hard.”
With the win the Pride improved their record to 4-9-1 and 2-3 in the NEWMAC while the Lions dropped to 2-10-2 and 0-5 in the NEWMAC. The Lions next play at Wheaton next Saturday at two o clock. For the Pride they are back in action on Wednesday at 3:30 with a nonconference matchup against in state foe Brandeis.
Photo courtesy of Josh Alvarado