The Hawks took on two teams in the Ivy League this week when they faced off against Columbia and Princeton.
When they face Ivy League teams, the Hawks tend to have great success against them in the regular season, but in the past two years of the NCAA tournament they’ve been knocked out by Ivy League schools. Dartmouth eliminated them last year, while Harvard knocked them off the year before.
Their regular season dominance would continue as they were able to come out with two huge wins last Thursday and Sunday.
Thursday night the Hawks traveled to New York to take on Columbia. The Hawks battled and were able to come out with a 10 victory. Freshman Derek Luke scored his first goal of the year in the 18th minute and it would be all the Hawks needed to win the game.
Columbia had a few opportunities to score goals, but they were denied by Junior goalkeeper Alex Blackburn.
Blackburn picked up his fifth win and fifth shutout with the victory. Blackburn has been very strong in net this season and it has not gone unnoticed. “Alex has stepped up and is taking care of what he needs to take care of. He’s been solid for us and I think each game that goes by his confidence grows, which is important for him,” said Head Coach Robert McCourt.
Going into Sunday’s game the Hawks had eight goals from eight different scorers. In other words, there was an eight-way tie for the team’s leading scorer. However, that would change following Sunday afternoon’s game.
The Hawks were able to overcome a 10 deficit late in second half, thanks to two Ryan Clark goals, and they went on to win their second straight game 21 on the Great Lawn on Sunday afternoon.
The first half was quiet for the most part as neither team was able to score, even though the Hawks were able to get five shots on net and they held Princeton to two.
Action picked up in the second half as senior Anthony Vazquez was sent out of the game when he was issued a red card for a foul in the 18 yard box. Princeton’s Antoine Hoppenot was given a penalty kick and he took advantage of it and put the Tigers up in the 65th minute.
The Hawks responded immediately, when Clark fired a low shot on goal from 30 yards out that went into the net, tying the game at one just three minutes later. In the 81st minute Clark struck again on a free kick to put the Hawks up 21 and that’s the way the score would remain.
Princeton nearly tied the game late when a shot almost went in the net, but luckily for the Hawks the shot bounced off the cross bar and the Hawks were able to win their second consecutive game.
Clark now leads the Hawks with three goals and is tied for the team lead in points with seven overall.
Clark’s outstanding play did not go unnoticed, as he was honored nationally and locally. He was nationally recognized by being named to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s National Team of the Week. He was also recognized locally by SoccerSavings.com/Big Apple Soccer for being the men’s college soccer player of the week.
Following two huge wins over Ivy League opponents, NEC play will kick-off this week when they face Long Island
University on the Great Lawn at 3:00 pm. Following Friday’s game they will head up to Rhode Island to take on Bryant University.
The Hawks will look to keep their streak of NEC titles alive, and they are the team to beat in the NEC.
“We can’t let our guard down for a second being the team everyone is going for and it’s just a matter of having the right mindset because over the past few years our guys have responded to the challenge,” McCourt said.
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University Athletics