Men’s, Women’s Soccer end in heartbreak

Jimmy Fisher, Reporter

Members of the men’s and women’s soccer teams are hanging up their cleats sooner then they had hoped.

After finishing with an overall regular season record of 13-5 for the men and 16-2-2 for the women both teams had higher hopes for their post season play.

The men’s season did not end the way they had envisioned when they arrived in the middle of August to make another run at a National Championship. After earning the right to face King’s College in the first round of the Freedom Conference Nov. 6, the men’s squad ended the game with a 0-0 tie, but a 4-3 differential in penalty kicks that favored King’s allowed King’s to advance.

“I think the match itself we played very well on both sides of the ball,” said men’s head coach Chuck Edkins. “Their defending action and their goalkeeper really kept them in it. We weren’t able to capitalize on our chances,. We didn’t give away anything danger- ous, but we didn’t score. So you go into overtime and all of a sudden you end up in PK’s and their keeper came up big again. The kid who was the player of the match was their goalkeeper. He kept them in it from the beginning to the end, and he made two saves he had to make and that was the difference.”

The NCAA however felt that the men’s team was still qualified to compete in the NCAA tournament. But the team ended the game in a 1-1 tie with Montclair State, but lost in the penalty kick decision of 4-2 ultimately ending their season.

“Sometimes that’s soccer,” said Edkins. “The better side doesn’t always come away victorious, and I thought that happened. I thought our kids left it all on the field, and there was the disappointment of not having the opportunity to compete for the conference championship – that’s all these kids know is putting themselves in a position to win it. We’ve been in the conference since 2008, won it all but twice and have been in the tournament every year.”

The men’s team exited this season’s tournament exactly how they exited last year’s: a tie based on a PK decision.

Having the same result can take a toll on some players who have been there before, but Edkins said he and his coaches assured the players after their loss to Montclair that they were still proud of them.

“We told them really how proud we are to be part of their lives with the opportunity to not only coach them but to be part of their lives and to work with them off the field as well,” said Edkins. “I told them that I was proud of the fact that they laid it out there. They were peaking at the right time. They were playing hard at the right time. They were playing well at the right time, and unfortunately today we’re gonna go home again at the fate of PKs. I don’t think they could have done anything more. I think they did all the right things to put themselves in the position to win the match.”

Edkins credited the hard work and leadership of seniors Dennis Halpin and T.J. Schaefer, as well as the play of senior David Stoner who was sidelined with an injury for part of the season but came back before the regular season’s conclusion.

Other honors include sophomore goalkeeper Barry Fitzgerald who earned Defensive Player of the Year Honor while junior mid- fielder Nick VonEgypt, sophomore defender Kevin Matlon and Schaefer were named to the first team All-American Conference.

The women’s soccer team advanced farther in the tournament but unlike last season were unable to reach the Final Four.

After winning the Freedom Con- ference Championship with wins over FDU-Florham and King’s, the women’s team is continuing its dominance and looking to make a second straight appearance in the NCAA Final Four this season.

The Lady Cougars hosted wins against Drew College Nov. 16 with a 2-0 win and a win over Trinity College Nov. 17 with a 4-2 PK decision after playing to a 0-0 tie.

“You get that late in a match it’s sudden victory,” said head coach Mark Stauffer. “One little breakdown if you give up a goal, the game’s over. You don’t get
a chance to come back and hold things, so we obviously wanted to try to win it in regulation where if you take care of your own and something flukey happens and you give one up, you still have time to regroup. It’s a nail bitter when you go into overtime because you’re one goal away from your season ending.”

Stauffer credited the women for their hard work during that match, saying were the better team and earned the win.

The women advanced to the Sweet 16, but the season came to a close at a 5-1 loss to Middlebury College Nov. 23.

One of the highlights of the women’s team was the defense, we are to be a part of their lives having given up only one point this postseason prior to the Middlebury game.

Stauffer says it’s just how they played.

“It starts up top,” said Stauffer. “With how we play our goal as a team is always to win the ball back as close to our opposing goal as possible. If we’re on our final third attack and we turn it over, our first line of defense are our forwards and they pressure immediately and try to win the ball back. I think our forwards and midfielders do such a good job of pressuring the ball it sorta makes life easier for our keepers and our backs.”

The men and women are looking to rebound next season with their goals to become National Champions intact.