By Kevin Saxe
SPRINGFIELD — The sun was out, the breeze was just right, and the setting was perfect. The newly renovated Brock-Affleck Field was the sight of the Springfield College men’s soccer team first win of the 2019 season on Saturday afternoon. The Pride defeated the visiting Owls of Westfield State, 3-0. Despite the result, head coach Tommy Crabill knows there is still work to do with this young Pride team.
“It wasn’t a perfect performance but we loved what the scoreboard showed. There’s still a ton of film to pick apart both defensively and in the attack. We’re definitely thrilled with a good step forward but we have a lot to work on.”
For the Pride, who entered the game with two goals in its first three games, one of their keys was to try to get the first goal something they had not done yet this season. Junior midfielder Garrett Ossolinski answered that bell with a goal 19:31 into the first half off of a feed from freshmen Aiden Casinghino. Ossolinski detailed the importance of scoring first.
“One of the goals before we come out on the field is we want to score first. We want to be the team that gets the energy going. That first goal just sets up all the rest of them.”
In the waning moments of the first half the Pride nearly gave back the goal on two different occasions but freshmen goalie Qasim El-Ashkar was up to the task.
With 3:20 left in the first half, Ryan Morais stepped up to the penalty spot for the visiting Owls. Standing in net was El-Ashkar — making his first collegiate start for the Pride. Morais slowly ran up and tried to go to El-Ashkar’s right but the freshmen was equal to the task and kept the Pride up by one goal at the time. Just 35 seconds after the save on the penalty kick El-Ashkar would be up to the task yet again making a diving save on Nate Weavers bid to tie the game. Crabill detailed the importance of El-Ashkar’s performance as well as the confidence in all of his goalies on the roster.
“We have five really capable freshmen goalies, which is a super unique situation. Qasim’s [El-Ashkar] been training really hard and he’s been really dialed in. It was tough to put him that situation but he did a really good job coming up big for us because that could’ve really changed the game for us.”
For the Pride one was all they needed but they were able to pot two more in the second half thanks to sophomores Jack Rosenberg and Joseph Olaynack. Rosenberg’s goal came off of a penalty kick after sophomore Ian Macala was dragged down in the box. Olaynack later beat his defender and was able to convert a tough angle shot to give the Pride a three-goal lead. Even with the three goal output Crabill sees this performance as a confidence builder as well as something for the team to improve on.
“Not only the guys who scored, but the guys who helped create can draw a ton of confidence in those moment. There’s other plays in a typical highlight that would show up but we have to turn those into goals to. Our finishing wasn’t always great but we did get ourselves into great areas but they should definitely draw confidence from this performance.”
For the Pride they received a combined shutout from El-Ashkar and freshmen Chris Prizio – the duo combined for three saves.
For the Pride, not only was today their first win for what could be one of the youngest teams in program history but their first regular season game on the new and improved Brock Affleck Field. Despite the win, Crabill knows that there is very little time to enjoy the victory with a tough road game at regionally and nationally ranked Stevens Tech tomorrow.
“We’re going to have turn page and move forward. It’s going to be tough to compete against a very physical team that have a great culture and will be a very good opponent tomorrow. We don’t have a choice we’ve got to move forward we can’t think about this game we’ve just got look forward.”
For the Pride, who improved to 1-2-1, it will be back in action Sunday night at 6:00 p.m. when they travel to New Jersey to take on Stevens Tech, the 24thranked team in the United Soccer Coaches preseason ranking and currently 2-0 on the young season.
Featured photo courtesy Jack Margaros