Men’s soccer improved its record to 4-1-1 this past week, when they shutout in-state rival Rutgers 3-0, and then tied Villanova 1-1 in the team’s second double-overtime contest of the season.
The Hawks’ are currently in the middle of what may be the most difficult part of their regular season schedule, as the team played both games on the road against larger conference schools in Rutgers and Villanova. Despite the tough stretch in their schedule, head coach Robert McCourt expected nothing less than the usual from his players.
“I’m looking for the same thing I’ve seen so far from our guys,” said McCourt about the matchups. “It’s always difficult playing on the road in college soccer, and the fact that we’re playing some local rivals makes it even more of a challenge, but ultimately we want to go out there, keep playing well, and pick up some wins.”
MU was more than up to the challenge when they travelled to Rutgers on Tuesday, Sept. 16 to take on the Scarlet Knights. After 30 scoreless minutes of play, MU’s senior forward, Dom Sarle, was able to register the game’s first goal in the 32nd minute when he found the back of the net from the left edge of the box. Sarle’s goal would ultimately prove to be the game winner.
Sophomore goalkeeper, Eric Klenofsky, and the rest of the Hawks defense was the story the rest of the day as they were able to shutdown Rutgers the entire second half to preserve the win and shutout. Klenofsky made five saves on the night, three of which came in the second half. The Hawks managed to push across two more goals in the second half with sophomore Dave Nigro adding a score of his own in the 64th minute and senior midfielder Bryant Avalos extending the lead in the 78th minute of play.
The blue and white found themselves in a more highly contested matchup when they took on the Villanova Wildcats on Saturday, Sept. 20. After a scoreless 43 plus minutes of play, it appeared that both teams would head into the locker room tied at 0. However, Villanova’s Aaron Dennis beat Klenofsky late in the 44th minute to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead at the half.
Villanova continued to apply pressure early in the second period, but Klenofsky bounced back from the first half goal, and shutdown the Wildcats, with four of his six total saves coming in the second half.
MU finally broke through to tie the game at one in the 75th minute when junior forward Jelani Williams ripped a shot past the Wildcat goalkeeper from the right side of the box. Neither team was able to push across the deciding goal throughout the rest of regulation and overtime, and the game ultimately ended in a 1-1 draw.
The Hawks continued their tough stretch of games on Tuesday, Sept. 23, when they again hit the road to take on Seton Hall, another in-state rival.
After taking on Seton Hall, MU will have a week off before they begin conference play by welcoming Canisius to the newly renovated Hesse Field on The Great Lawn.