“We need to prepare very hard to compete effectively in the conference,” said men’s soccer coach Erik Visser after the two weekend games.
Friday, 7 p.m. The organization staff didn’t expect to see so many people – about a thousand – in the bleachers, attending the game that pitted our men’s soccer team against San Jose State’s.
Despite a freezing and foggy night – which could have numbed the players – an intense, technical and fast fight started between the two teams. Both of them had several opportunities to score without making it, until Josh Boemecke from San Jose crucified our goalkeeper in the 73rd minute.
But his joy lasted only twelve minutes, as USF’s best attacker Conor Chinn tied on a header after a pass from Justin Warren. Warren: remember this name, because he had an important role in what happened next.
The score was 1-1 at the end of the official time, which forced the two teams to play overtime. The Dons were very aggressive from the beginning, but their efforts were not rewarded at the end of the first overtime.
At the 103rd minute, defender Adam Nowak from USF crossed toward Justin Warren – yes, the same Warren who permitted Chinn to tie – who scored and released his team, his staff and the fans. The Dons and their fans – who filled the field – celebrated their victory, jumping, singing, yelling, screaming and hugging each other.
While our players went back to the locker room, the fans stayed on the field, some of them laying on it, intoxicated by victory. They were satisfied, and so was Coach Erik Visser. “In overtime, the team showed the mentality of winning. With four starters out, three of them captains, we showed a lot of toughness and guts. After being down 1-0, we scored twice to get the win and that’s a good sign,” he said.
We were about to see if coach Visser was right, as the Dons had to play against Brown two days later.
Last Sunday, when the game started at 2 p.m., the weather was incredibly sunny and hot, and from the beginning the Bears of Brown University were very aggressive. The ball possession was mainly in favor of Brown and the Dons got only a few opportunities to score. However, despite smart game phases, the Bears were unable to finish them and were taking too many risks. Their shy boldness punished them. In the 18th minute, while they discovered themselves during an attack, a favorable counter-attack permitted Conor Chinn to score the first goal of the game and his fourth goal of the season.
The Bears’ misfortune didn’t end at that point: two of their players were sent off, leaving nine against 11.
But neither Brown’s fans – to whom we should present the rewards of cheerleading and sportsmanship- nor the players were discouraged. With courage, the Bears took advantage of a lack of communication between the defenders of USF, and tied – thanks to Dylan Remick – eight minutes before the end of the game.
The double overtime was intense and both teams got opportunities to make the difference. However, goalkeepers Paul Grandstand for the Bears, and Brendan Roslund – who sidelined Franco Carotenuto for injury – proved themselves by saving their teams’ day.
The referee blew. Final score: 1-1.
This time, coach Visser was not satisfied. “It’s a disappointing tie for us. We started out very strong and played very well the first half, but the momentum strangely shifted for Brown when they had players ejected and we stopped playing both times. We had plenty of opportunities to walk away with the win.” And when askedabout the WCC, Visser answered: “We are aware now of where we’re at and this week we need to prepare very hard to compete effectively in the conference, which is going to be stronger from top to bottom than it has for quite some time.”
Next Friday, the Dons are playing their first West Coast Conference game against Loyola Marymount, on Sullivan Field.