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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Soccer Socks

When this writer decided to go with the UMB men’s soccer match against the Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors, someone close to the team warned me that the game would be ugly. Despite a 0-2 loss to the Little East Conference defending champion, the Beacons threatened the decorated opponent with a google of scoring chances, enough to force that poor predictor to concede he was wrong.

However, losing is what we have to swallow. Two first-half goals by the Warriors forward Jarod Groat crushed the Beacons’ thin hopes to clinch a playoff berth. After the seventh loss in the last eight, the Beacons are 1-5 among the Little East Conference, or in seventh place. Four teams in the eight-team conference will play the semifinals on Nov 3.

The recent slump is mainly because of several key injuries. The influence is so crucial the Beacons had just one substitute on the bench and was forced to start sophomore Mike Reda, a former defender, as an interim goalkeeper in the match at the Thomas Nevers Field in Willimantic, Connecticut, on a chilly Saturday, October 23. The game started with a scorebook full of play-ball goal opportunities from the Warriors. The Beacons relied on a couple of fine single-arm saves by Reda to escape from the early jams. Reda, in his second start as a goalie this year, showed his outstanding potential with 11 saves. The Warriors’ finally went ahead in the 18th minute. Defender David Walberg intercepted the ball from a Beacon and kicked it long toward Jarod Groat. The unheralded striker caught up with the ball faster than the Beacons’ defenders to confront with Reda. At this time, the goalie couldn’t protect the turret, as Groat delivered his first goal of the season. Junior defender Chris Curtin recollected, “That was a lucky goal. [The Warriors’ forwards] were not too good. We were just short-handed.” The Warriors made it 2-0 fourteen minutes later. Midfielder Carl Segura’s shot was initially punched by Reda. But the loose ball chose Groat as its new owner. Groat, who scored the only point in last year’s match against UMB, sank his second goal into the left side of the frame.

The Beacons head coach Myles Berry analyzed the back-to-back goals, “[the Warriors] scored twice with the quick upfront. Their forwards were faster than our defenders. It is also partly because we mixed up our formation [due to a lack of players].”

Now behind 0-2, the Beacons stuck to counterattacks to imitate what the “Idiots” just had done two days before. Berry’s strategy almost saw the fruit in the 39th minute. Senior midfielder Alejandro Lopez received the ball and passed it long to make freshman forward Emile Pierre-Louis run into the big gap the Warriors left. Pierre-Louis, with his superb speed, easily outran the Warriors’ defenders and made the first contact with the ball over the goalie in the box. Desperate enough, the goalie hooked Pierre-Louis’ hoof to knock him down (it at least looked like so to me). But referee Luciano Governale ruled a legal tackle instead of a penalty kick, as the Beacons showed frustration. Another chance came in the 61st minute. Lopez crossed right-side free kick to freshman forward Guilherme Goncalves who was longing for the ball 15 yards from the goal. However the LEC Rookie of the Week winner failed to hit it hard, as the shot was easily caught by the goalie. The Beacons slogged it out until the end. They made two goal-range free kicks in the final ten minutes. Then, Reda, also second scorer in the team, dashed from the Beacons goal-line all the way to the upfront as a kicker. But his Jose Luis Chilavert attempts were hindered by the Warriors defense. The game-ending horn meant the Beacons’ fifth scoreless match in the last eight. But many in the team agreed they made many scoring chances with counterattacks. Coach Berry said of efficiency of the strategy he used, “[the counterattacks] worked well especially in the first half. We got two [goal-post shots]. I think we could put much pressure on them.”

UMB will host Western Connecticut State University for the final game of the season at Clark Athletic Center on Oct. 30.

Despite the losing record, Berry stays confident with his squad, “these guys are heroes. We have had a tough time because of some injuries. But they have continued to work hard. Hopefully we can find some success [in the final match of the season].”

Captain Lopez prepares for the conclusion of his brilliant collegiate career. Last year’s LEC first team member has kept playing during the 2004 season even while an injured left hamstring limited his movements. He commented, “I want to make a winning streak [at the end of the four-year tenure as a Beacon]. This has been a tough season because of some injuries in the team. But we take it true and still play hard.”

About the Contributor
Shun Hasegawa served as the sports editor for The Mass Media for the following years: 2004-2005