Calvin Wetzel | Assistant Sports Editor
The Wheaton College men’s soccer team split their two games last week, earning a 3-1 victory over Calvin College and falling 2-0 at Dominican University.
The Thunder avenged four straight losses with a victory against the Calvin College Knights on Friday, Sept. 14. The final score from Joe Bean Stadium was 3-1 in favor of the Thunder.
Wheaton came in to the game hungry for a win. Thunder men’s soccer has historically beat Calvin, having won 38 of 44 games against the Knights, but the tides have turned in recent years. Wheaton’s current senior class had lost to Calvin four times in their first three years, including when, as freshmen in 2009, Calvin ended their season in the NCAA tournament. They were eager for one more chance to top the 2011 national runner up Knights.
“Every time we play Calvin, it’s a little special just because of the history we have with them. We really wanted to win this one for the seniors because they had yet to beat Calvin in their careers, so we were excited obviously to play them,” said junior midfielder Nathan Jasperse about the anticipation leading up to the contest.
To the delight of the 1,231 fans in attendance, Wheaton got on the scoreboard first in the 13th minute of play after junior forward Mitch Paur took a shot from 25 yards out that found the back of the net. Assisting Paur on the scoring play was Jasperse. The Thunder continued to control the pace for much of the first half. With 11 minutes remaining until halftime, sophomore forward Adam Blackman extended his squad’s lead with a perfectly placed ball that sailed over Calvin keeper Jared Rushlau and dipped into the upper corner of the goal. Freshman forward Stephen Golz recorded the assist.
The Thunder were able to carry their momentum into the second half. Their defense led to possession control as they continued to see more frequent scoring opportunities than the Knights. In the 61st minute Blackman again added to the Thunder advantage on the scoreboard with an unassisted goal that was just out of Rushlau’s reach. The two goals were Blackman’s first goal of the season, and he joins junior midfielder Josh Clark and junior forward Chad Musgraves as Thunder players with multiple goals on the season. Blackman also led the Thunder with three shots on goal on the night.
The Knights managed to avoid the shutout late, when, with only 7:30 remaining in the match, midfielder Taylor Pruis converted an assist from fellow midfielder Sean Broekhuizen. The goal was only the second allowed by Wheaton’s senior keeper Ryan Seager in five games this year.
Wheaton outshot Calvin 14-7 in the first half and 9-3 in the second for a total of 23 shots to 10 for the match. Rushlau saved five of the eight shots on goal by the Thunder. The Knights registered five shots on goal, as Seager recorded four saves on the night.
The Thunder, who moved up from 15th to 8th in the national rankings after knocking off Calvin, squared off against the Stars of Dominican University on Tuesday night, falling 2-0. Dominican has now beaten Wheaton three straight years.
Stars midfielder Leo Elizalde put his team on top in the 16th minute of the game with a goal from just inside the top of the box, coming off of an assist by midfielder David Aranda. The score remained 1-0 into the second half. With 17 minutes left to play, forward Ryan Ybarra extended the Stars’ lead with a score of his own. After his first shot was saved by Seager, he was able to take the rebound and chip the ball over the diving goalie.
Seager recorded two saves in the match to increase his season total to 20, but he allowed two goals for the first time this season. Stars keeper Max Gutbrod pitched a shutout, saving all four Thunder shots on goal. Wheaton outshot Dominican 13-8, but both teams had four shots on goal. The loss moved the Thunder to 5-2-0 on the year, while Dominican improved to 4-1-1.
The Stars were able to hold the Thunder offense in check. Wheaton came into the contest having outscored their opponents 13-4 on the season and having outshot their opponents 116-67. Wheaton’s average goals per game dropped below two for the first time in 2012, but they are still allowing less than one goal per game.
“Dominican did a great job of packing their team in after their first goal. When a team packs it in like that it’s really tough to break down, especially against a good team like Dominican,” said junior forward Jordan Golz about how the Stars managed to hold Wheaton offense scoreless.
The Thunder will continue their stretch of road games in September with a pair of matches in St. Louis this weekend. Tonight they will play the Bears of Washington University at 7 p.m, and tomorrow they will take on the Webster University Gorloks, also at 7 p.m. Both games can be heard live in their entirety on WETN radio 88.1 FM or online at www.wetn.org.
Photo and banner image credit: Allison Freet
Printed in the September 21, 2012, issue of The Wheaton Record. Send comments to email@example.com.