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A missed penalty and a late goal prevented a repeat Maroon miracle as men’s soccer fell 1–0 in UAA action to ninth-ranked Emory (10–0–1, 1–0–1) last Saturday in Atlanta.
One week after opening conference play with a surprise victory over Carnegie, who had entered the match undefeated and ranked second in the UAA, the Maroons gave a performance that coach Scott Wiercinski dubbed “schizophrenic.” The Maroons (7–4–0, 1–1–0) struggled in a scoreless first half but conceded the game‘s only goal after a much stronger second-half showing.
Unable to find a rhythm on offense, the Maroons were outshot 11–3 in the game’s opening 45 minutes but the game remained scoreless at halftime thanks to a quartet of saves by third-year goalie Chris Giusto.
“We didn’t change much tactically at halftime, but the guys looked much better after the break,” said Wiercinski. “We moved the ball better, were more aggressive, and I thought our subs added some good energy. Overall, I think we played well but were punished for two mistakes.”
The first mistake came 11 minutes into the second half, when Emory’s Nathan McKeever committed a foul inside the box. Third-year Stan Coville stepped up to take the penalty kick, but the Maroons’ top scorer couldn‘t bring his season total to six goals, sending his shot wide of the post. Then, with just under 10 minutes remaining, the Eagles’ Zach Samuels scored the winning goal from the edge of the box.
“The goal was disappointing because we had controlled the game well in the second half,” Wiercinski said. “We didn’t get any pressure from our men up front, so they were able to play a long ball into the box. Then we didn’t provide enough cover for our central defenders, and they were able to capitalize. It was a group mistake among five or six players, rather than an individual error.”
Despite Saturday’s loss, the Maroons could mark themselves as UAA title contenders should they rebound at Rochester this Friday. The Yellowjackets came in ranked 14th, but remain without a win in UAA play this season, having registered a draw and a loss.
Looking forward to next week‘s match, Wiercinski said, “Their crowds are always pretty good and they‘ll be desperate for a win, so it should be a tough match.”
“With a bit of luck, we could have come out with a victory over Emory,” Wiercinski said, alluding to the team‘s high expectations for its forthcoming match against a team ranked significantly lower than Emory.
A Maroon victory would crush the title aspirations of a top competitor and provide some momentum before their fourth game against a ranked opponent in as many weeks, an away match at eighth-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater.