The SVSU men’s soccer team kicked off its 2019 season with a 2-0 victory at McKendree on Friday, Sept. 6.
The team entered the season with high expectations. Even after losing some key players from last year, they managed to snag a No. 19 spot in Division II play.
Additionally, the team welcomed new head coach Louis Barrow, a former SVSU soccer player.
The team also traveled to Indianapolis to take on the Greyhounds on Sunday, Sept. 8, which concluded prior to this production of The Valley Vanguard.
The first half of play against McKendree was mostly a defensive match, as neither team could find a good angle in enemy territory. SVSU managed to tack up three shots-on-goal while McKendree could only find two. Both teams were aggressive early, finding their best shot attempts between the second and 17th minutes of action.
Both teams adjusted, however, as neither saw much of a chance at goal. Sophomore midfielder Gabriello Calamita saw an opening in the 32nd minute, but both teams were ultimately held scoreless going into halftime.
The second half remained largely similar to start. Both teams had a hard time keeping up with the other’s defense, as neither could get any good looks on goal.
In the 58th minute, freshman midfielder Robbie Baker had an opportunity, but he missed out left. However, this opening gave the Cardinals the right momentum to remain aggressive.
During the 62nd minute, senior midfielder Connor Rutz gave SVSU its first points of the night, his eighth goal of his SVSU career. Rutz smashed a free kick past McKendree’s keeper to give the team a one-goal lead with less than 30 minutes to play.
Only a minute later, junior midfielder Gaye Diadie had a chance to extend the lead with another shot-on-goal for the Cardinals, but it was saved by McKendree’s keeper.
SVSU kept up its pace, as the team found another opening in the 73rd minute. Off of some nice setup by Rutz, sophomore midfielder Owen Marshall found the back of the net, his first goal as a Cardinal. This gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead heading into the final minutes of play.
McKendree tried to get into Cardinal territory to return some shots with time expiring. SVSU’s stout defense held strong, however, as McKendree could only find one shot-on-goal in the 85th minute, which missed out right. This was McKendree’s final chance, as time would expire, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 victory and momentum heading into the following weeks.
Junior goalkeeper Mason Maziasz took home his first victory as a Cardinal, shutting out McKendree and earning himself three saves.
The Cardinals’ next game will be an afternoon matchup at home against the Tiffin Dragons on Friday, Sept. 13, with a 3 p.m. start time. They will then take on the Alderson Broaddus Battlers on Sunday, Sept. 15, at 4 p.m.
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