On Sept. 11, the men’s soccer team hosted their home opener against Mount St. Joseph (MSJ) University and took their first victory of the season 6-0. The Tigers followed that up with another win on Sept. 13 against Bluffton College, 2-1. “After 3 losses by 1 goal it was nice to finally get a couple of wins under our belt,” Coach Dwight Burgess said.
Starting off against the MSJ Lions, the Tigers had snagged an early lead with Aaron Craddock (’23) scoring within the first five minutes of the half. After a few subs from MSJ, the Tigers scored again this time from Andres Mujica (’23) with an assist from Jack Benak (’23). The third goal of the first half came from Sean Williams (’23) with an assist from Craddock.
“A lot went our way against Mt. St. Joe and we took advantage which is the most important thing,” Burgess said. “We also spread the goals out among multiple players which is helpful too.”
In the second half, MSJ attempted to hold their own but the Tigers were too swift. Mujica scored for the second time 10 minutes in with an assist from Edwin Blanco (’21). After that play, Harrison Von Tilburg (’21) subbed in for starting goalie Jason Bowen (’22). Bowen had two saves while on the field that night.
Later on in the second half, Williams scored again unassisted and put the Tigers ahead of the Lions, 5-0. The teams fought back and forth for the ball for the duration of the second half and with only six minutes left Gus Esterline (’22) scored the final goal of the game.
As a team, the Tigers racked up 14 shots, four corner kicks and 10 fouls. Only one of those 10 fouls was a yellow card and it was presented to Jamison Castillo (’23) in the first half.
“Bluffton came in and was very competitive,” Burgess said. The Tigers and the Beavers both came in and weren’t afraid to be aggressive for the ball.
Only 13 minutes into the game, Williams scored with an assist from River Banks (’21). The second goal of the game came early in the second half after Craddock had the opportunity for a penalty kick knocking the lead to 2-0. The Beavers scored their only goal off of a penalty kick late in the second half after a slough of yellow cards. “We had a two-goal lead in the second half and couldn’t get a third that would have wrapped up the match,” Burgess said. “To their credit, they kept fighting and pushed us to the final whistle.”
By the end of the night, the Bluffton Beaver’s had racked up four yellow cards. The Tigers earned only one yellow card and it was awarded to Banks.
At the end of the game the Tigers had taken 18 shots and nine corner kicks, with nine fouls to Bluffton’s 10. Bowen made three saves between the pipes.
“All in all, great experience for the team as we continue to play as many as 14-16 first year guys,” Burgess said. “There are still a lot of lessons to be learned this fall and it may not reflect in wins and losses as we might hope, but it’s short term pain for long term gain.”
Looking ahead, the Tigers will be taking on Wilmington College at home on Sept. 17 before hitting the road and facing Albion College on Sept. 21 and Adrian College on Sept. 22. The men’s soccer team will return home on Sept. 25 to face Earlham College.