By Kevin Saxe
SPRINGFIELD — The clock ticks under two and a half minutes in the first half of what’s been a physical battle in a rematch of last year’s NEWMAC championship game between Springfield College and Babson. A ball is sent in by Beavers midfielder Noah Labelle, and the ball gets through the outstretched cleats of the Pride players and lands on the foot of sophomore midfielder Mitchell Collins. Collins fired a shot cleanly past Pride Goalie Qasim El-Ashkar (Four saves) to give Babson the lead 1-0 and to suck the air out of a lively family weekend crowd at Brock Affleck Field.
The Pride would never recover as they would fall 2-0 to the Beavers this afternoon. Despite the score line and Babson controlling a majority of the possession in the second half, for the Pride ability to defend for long stretches looked as good as it had all season.
“The ability to grow confidence from when we’re defending long stretches is there. It’s a bend not break attitude and when you have two thirds of the team brand new to college soccer and of that last third about half of those guys are new to college soccer, in tight games against tough opponents two moments beat us and that’s tough,” said head coach Tommy Crabill.
For both teams it seemed to be a feeling out process in the first fifteen minutes but play would pick up from there. Springfield seemed to be generating as many chances as Babson however the problem for the Pride was the inability to hit the net with their shots. Despite outshooting the Beavers 10-8 in the first half, the Beavers held a 6-2 shots on goal advantage. For the Pride they had a number of near misses none closer then Jack Rosenberg’s shot just left of the goal that would have had Babson goalie Steven Heintzelman (Two saves) beat had it not skidded just left of the net fifty eight seconds before Collins’ goal to give the Beavers the lead. Despite not scoring in the first half Crabill liked what he saw from his team in the half.
“I thought we had some fantastic minutes of soccer in the first half.”
In the second half the field seemed to tilt more in the Beavers favor as they outshot the Pride 11-3. For the Pride who seemed to lose steam after the Babson goal late in the first half Crabill pointed out some room for growth as the Pride forge on this season.
“One of the big things is winning balls in transition. At this level of college soccer there’s a lot of those balls and being unafraid of the physical moments in the game and willing to take the knocks and put your body on the line is important.”
Despite defending for a large portion of the half, the Pride only found themselves down by one until just under 20 minutes left when freshmen Samuel Smith for the Beavers would send a ball back post for Labelle who was in perfect position to tap the ball in past Pride goalie Chris Prizio (Three saves) to give the Beavers a two goal lead. For the game the goalie duo of El-Ashkar and Prizio would combine for seven saves while Heintzelman went the full 90 in net with two saves to earn the clean sheet. Despite the outcome for the Pride, with a quick turnaround to the next game, Crabill expects his guys to be ready.
“Well our players love to play in games. They’re gamers. With one training session tomorrow, I think they’ll be excited to put this one behind them and get onto the next game.”
For the Beavers who improved to 5-3-1 on the year and 1-0-1 in conference they return to action at home on Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 vs Endicott. For the Pride who dropped to 2-7-1 and 1-1-0 in conference they have a quick turnaround as they travel to Framingham State on Monday at 3:45 in a rescheduled game originally scheduled for Tuesday.
Featured photo courtesy Jack Margaros