After a hard fought battle, the Springfield College Men’s soccer team found themselves at the losing end of Tuesday night’s match taking place at their very own Brock Affleck Field. The Pride fell to New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) powerhouse Wesleyan by a score of 4-0. The loss brings Springfield College’s record to 1-4 as they enter NEWMAC league play.
“I think we saw one of the best teams in the nation here tonight,” said Head Coach Steffen Seibert following his team’s effort. “I’m just happy we can showcase ourselves against teams like that. Sometimes there are going to be teams that are just better than us.”
Wesleyan is a squad coming off a stellar 2011 season. A season where the Cardinals went two rounds deep into the NCAA tournament and only graduated four seniors. Wesleyan was ranked as high as 11th in the nation last year, finishing the season at the top of a competitive NESCAC. Although they are a strong team, Head Coach Geoff Wheeler still enjoys playing Springfield College year in and year out.
“Springfield plays very hard,” said Coach Wheeler. “They try to run you into the ground and beat you to the ball but our back line held strong and we were able to take advantages of our opportunities.”
The Cardinals started the game off putting a lot of pressure on the Pride defense right away. Despite losing senior midfielder Alex Reilly – who was injured vs. Mitchell and taken out of game — Springfield held off the penetrating attack.
At the 29:38 mark of the first half, the Pride defenders were caught playing too physical inside the box, leading to a penalty kick by Wesleyan’s returning first-team All-American Rory O’Neil. O’Neil finished off the shot and broke open the scoreless bout.
Later on in the first half, the pesky Cardinal attack was at it again. This time junior forward Henry Karmin snuck his way into the box and drew another Pride foul resulting in a second penalty kick. O’Neill was once again dubbed the honors and finished the shot into the same side of the net.
“I was just thinking put it in the same spot, if he wasn’t going to save it the first time I knew he wouldn’t be able to save it the second time,” said the 6’4” midfielder from Silver Spring, Maryland.
In the second half, Wesleyan senior forward Evan Hazlett found the back of the net at the 27:20 mark, then found his his teammate Chris Kafina for a score on a header off of a free kick at the 25:46 mark.
Springfield’s best opportunity came with just 8:42 left in the game when senior captain David Chessen acrobatically volleyed the ball out of the air and struck the crossbar, giving Cardinal goalie Adam Purdy a scare of losing his shutout streak.
Chessen and the Pride will attempt to defend their league title on Saturday when they travel to Coast Guard. The Pride will be looking to repeat their NEWMAC Championship run this season.