As the final whistle blew, Springfield’s fans and players collectively celebrated a hard fought, well earned, and much needed win Saturday afternoon at Brock-Affleck Field – snapping a five match winless streak.
The match was highlighted by staunch defenses and a very physical style of play.
Between the two teams, there were a total of three yellow cards handed out and numerous hard fouls. Still, Springfield was able to edge out a 1-0 win over WPI.
“As leaders, try to have the team focused and make sure they keep their head in the game,” said senior defenseman Chayne Brunaeu about the physical play.
“I think our physicality won us that game.”
While the Pride’s past outings were marked with good performances but tough results, today was a different story.
“Maybe we didn’t turn up on the scoreboard the way we wanted to (in previous games),” said Head Coach Tommy Crabill. “Today we did, and it feels really good.”
The victory surely wouldn’t have been possible without the outstanding performance of Pride goalkeeper Clayton Knibbs, who racked up nine saves with each more impressive than the last.
Knibbs served as a commanding presence in the box, taking care of multiple scoring chances for WPI late in the second half.
A great shot from WPI’s leading scorer Francesco Valagussa in the 86th minute was swatted out of play by Knibbs, and he quickly shut down any further scoring opportunity after clearing the ensuing WPI corner.
Crabill lauded at the great performance from Knibbs and the impact it had on the rest of the team
“It gives the players in front of him a lot of confidence that they can trust him, and trust him to make big plays.” Crabill said.
The confidence boost was on full display throughout the game, as WPI managed to get 20 shots off with only nine on target, with many deflected by the defenders in the box.
The match’s only goal came in the 36th minute, as graduate midfielder Jack Rosenberg scored a free kick from just outside the box. The ball flew into the top right corner, just out of the outstretched glove of WPI goalkeeper Roe Hendrick.
It was Rosenberg’s second goal of the season, as he scored a similar free kick last week against Framingham State.
The goal was very important for Springfield, with it allowing them to take a defense-heavy approach in the second half and lock down the WPI offense.
Rosenberg praised the coaching staff for his success with set pieces, as the placement, power and technique were all run through in practice.
“As for the actual goal,” Rosenberg said, “I just tried to hit to that side and pray it goes in, hope it goes in…but I just hit it well and it went in.”
Rosenberg also commented on the physicality that he and his teammates faced from WPI, and credited the Pride’s defense for the win.
“Our three center backs are all warriors back there, and against a team like this, they showed it today,” Rosenberg said.
The Pride now stand at 2-5-2 and will head to Beverly, Mass. to face Endicott College as they try to stay in the win column.
Photo by Danielle Schmelling/The Student