Soccer

Freshman defender Daniel SanGiovanni dribbles the ball into play in a matchup against SUNY Maritime College (N.Y.) on Sept. 16. Keerthana Sivaramakrishnan/Staff

The Emory men’s soccer team maintained its winning streak and advanced to 6-0 with victories over the Millsaps College (Miss.) Majors on Sept. 15 and the SUNY Maritime College (N.Y.) Privateers on Sept. 16.

With final scores of 4-0 and 3-0, respectively, the Eagles dominated offensively, earning two shutouts on the other end of the field. Both games saw clean, patient play from the home-turf Eagles.

Saturday’s game against Millsaps started slowly with little action from either team, but a lightning delay 15 minutes into regulation gave both teams a chance to focus themselves.

Both the Eagles and the Majors returned to the field with new energy, taking a combined five shots on goal within the next 10 minutes. Despite the change in tempo from both teams, the Eagles pulled ahead in momentum and spent most of the next 20 minutes in the Majors’ half of the field.

Senior forward and team captain Moustafa Khattab put the first point on the board for Emory at four minutes remaining in the first half.

Emory charged into the second half with a shot taken after only two minutes, followed quickly by their second goal from sophomore defender Josh Berman off a corner kick from Khattab. Keeping the ball predominantly in Millsaps’ half of the field, the Eagles continued to demonstrate excellent ball control and a strong passing game.

At 26 minutes remaining, Emory found their third goal of the game through junior midfielder Jun Tsuru with an assist from junior midfielder Keegan McCombie.

Even with a substantial 3-0 lead, the Eagles did not back off. The team outshot the Majors (5-1) on goal over the next 20 minutes. With a fourth and final header goal off a corner kick from freshman midfielder Matt Engler, freshman defender Daniel SanGiovanni all but ended the game.

“I think the biggest thing is just so many people are stepping up,” Khattab said of the four goals scored by four different players. “I think we’re all having a lot of fun with it.”

Head Coach Cory Greiner attributed the team’s momentum to their attention to detail and basic habits.

“One of the big things we’ve been harping on is making sure we get all the details right,” Greiner said. “It’s simple things like being on time, being ready to train every day. … [There is] a lot of attitude work with the guys to make sure we’re still staying mentally prepared for a challenge.”

To Greiner, the importance of paying attention to these elements is clear.

“It’s very easy to fall into a situation where if you’re having success, you take it for granted,” Greiner said. “We want to make sure the guys are appreciating every moment and not taking anything for granted.”

Sunday’s match against the Privateers began with much more energy from the Eagles. Unlike Saturday’s match, this game was rife with penalties. Both teams earned two free kicks each within the first 25 minutes of play, and the players only grew more aggressive as the game continued. Once again, the Eagles’ biggest strength was their ball control. The team was quick to pass and careful in controlling touches.

Senior forward Moustafa Khattab runs with a pass from junior midfielder Victor Garcia. The Eagles have yet to lose a game this season, increasing their winning streak to six games. Keerthana Sivaramakrishnan/Staff

After back and forth shots on goal, the Eagles scored the first point. Sophomore forward Nate Sampson clocked a narrow goal just past the reach of the Privateers goalkeeper and into the back-right corner.

Just three minutes later, Khattab notched his second goal of the weekend with a stellar free kick to the left post. Emory continued to fire shot after shot toward the Privateers’ goal during the half. With both sides beginning to fatigue, a breakaway goal from sophomore forward Patrick McCann brought the Maritime goalkeeper to the ground and fans to their feet. The energy back in their steps, the Eagles finished out the match with no rebuttal from their opponents.

Overall, the weekend was filled with promising play by the Eagles. Emory’s defensive unit allowed zero goals, as the rest of the team spent well over the majority of both games in the opposing team’s half and had six different players put up points.

Greiner harkened back to last year’s season, capped by the team’s admission into the Elite Eight in the NCAA Division III tournament.

“Once you get in [the tournament], anything can happen,” Greiner said. “But I think the guys got a little taste of it last year, and I think it reignited some of those feelings for those guys, making sure they’re … in shape and sharp into preseason. That’s been one of the goals for the group, to get back and hopefully surpass what we were able to do last year.”

If the Eagles continue to play at the same level as this past weekend, those hopes may well come to fruition.

The Eagles will play Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) on Sept. 19 at 8 p.m.

The Emory women’s soccer team split a pair of games played at Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.) this weekend. The Eagles lost a hard-fought game 1-0 against the University of Lynchburg (Va.) on Sept. 15 and bounced back on Sunday, defeating Thomas More College (Ky.) 4-2 on Sept 16.

Despite leading the game against Lynchburg in shots (10-5), the Eagles could not capitalize offensively.

“We were able to get behind [Lynchburg’s] defense a lot in the first half,” senior midfielder Madison Phaneuf said. “[But] some of the shots weren’t exactly on target.”

Sophomore defender Lily Dresner had a team-high of two shots on goal for the Eagles. Senior forward Caitlyn Mertens of Lynchburg notched the only goal of the game, scoring on a through ball in the 55th minute.

Though they were unable to score, Head Coach Sue Patberg thought the team performed well offensively.

“We created some very good scoring opportunities against a very good team,” Patberg said.

The next day, the Eagles rebounded with a 4-2 victory against Thomas More. Senior forward Abbe McCarter led the way with four points, including a goal and two assists.

Phaneuf started the scoring for the Eagles when she netted the first goal of the game in the 10th minute. Phaneuf’s third goal of the season came after a long pass from Dresner to the top of the 18-yard box. Thomas More responded 10 minutes later with a goal from 25 yards out.

The game remained tied early in the second half until junior forward Caroline Kolski registered her second goal of the season. Thomas More responded 21 seconds later with a goal of their own.

“I think we were pretty excited because we struggled to capitalize in the first half, so that was a good little booster for us,” Phaneuf said. “But then they had their kickoff, and I think we were still on our high from [Kolski’s] score and weren’t as mentally focused as we should’ve been and they took advantage.”

The Eagles regained the lead when McCarter scored on a corner kick in the 59th minute. Junior forward Shivani Beall sealed the game with a goal right in front of the net in the 79th minute assisted by McCarter.

“Not that we just scored four goals, but they were really nice goals,” Patberg said. “Some of the buildups and some of the possessions, splitting the back line and the runs that we had were great. … Now we just need to be consistent.”

The victory over Thomas More will give the team confidence moving forward, Phaneuf said.

“[The win] definitely gives us a mood booster for going into practice this week and focusing on our next game,” Phaneuf said.

The Eagles are set to play on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at home against state rival Piedmont College (Ga.) before going on the road to Huntingdon College (Ala.) on Sept. 23.

Junior forward Shivani Beall lunges for the ball in a matchup against Oglethorpe University (Ga.) on Sept. 6. The Eagles demolished the competition 9-0 with 27 shots on goal total. Forrest Martin/Senior Staff

The Emory women’s soccer team pulled off a rare 9-0 victory against Oglethorpe University (Ga.) on Sept. 6 but slipped 1-0 to Rowan University (N.J.) on Sept. 9.

Against Oglethorpe, the Eagles maintained control from the outset and set themselves up for a resounding victory. The offensive explosion in the game was evident through the nine goals from eight different goalscorers. Emory totaled an incredible 44 shots in the game, with 27 of them on goal.

The Eagles scored six goals before the first-half whistle blew. The floodgates were opened for the offense when junior forward Caroline Kolski scored in the sixth minute, faking out a defender and lobbing a shot over the keeper.

“I started the scoring, but the team really came along with me and it was a great way to start the season,” Kolski said.

The goal was followed by a successful unassisted effort in the 13th minute from senior midfielder Madison Phaneuf — a shot fired from outside of the 18-yard box and over the keeper. The team made a conscious effort to start out strong against Oglethorpe.

“In previous years, we have had a history of struggling with less competitive teams,” Phaneuf said. “We had a goal of coming out strong from the start because we have a tendency to play down to these teams.”

Phaneuf followed up her first goal with a knocked-in loose ball from a free kick delivered by sophomore midfielder Lily Dresner in the 19th minute, making the score 3-0 in the first 20 minutes. Junior forward Shivani Beall once again put her name on the scoresheet in the 24th minute, this time with a goal of her own. She put together a noteworthy individual display in which she beat five players dribbling across the box, and slotted home the ball in the back of the net for the Eagles’ fourth goal of the evening.

The scoring continued in the first half with a goal from freshman defender Melika Mohammadi, who beat the goalie to the far post in the 37th minute. The Eagles still managed to slot in a sixth goal before halftime with a goal courtesy of freshman midfielder Arielle Williamson. On an unassisted goal, she beat the goalie to a loose ball.

The barrage continued into the second half with a trio of goals from Beall, sophomore midfielder Kelly Walsh and freshman forward Molly Miller. Beall’s second goal of the game landed in the top corner of the net from a far cross delivered by senior midfielder Jordan Doak in the 53rd minute.  

“Our ability to keep the ball moving was good in that game compared to other early games we’ve had early in previous seasons,” Beall said.

The final two goals to seal the astounding 9-0 victory came within five minutes of each other in the 75th and 80th minutes, respectively. Walsh knocked in another loose ball inside the six-yard box on an assist from junior midfielder Morgan Brandewie for her second of the outing. With victory simply a formality at that point in the game, Miller converted a one-time finish from close range off of a cross.

The Eagles finished with nine goals and a sense of cohesion moving forward.

“One of the biggest things we talked about was not thinking about scoring goals or how many we wanted to score, but just focus on the process of moving the ball and possessing the ball,” Head Coach Sue Patberg said.

Another contributing factor to the team’s sustained success and maintaining focus in the game was getting everyone involved in the game.

“We were able to bring in a lot of players from the bench who made an impact and kept the energy really high which was helpful,” Beall said.

Emory followed their shocking victory with a nail-biting 1-0 loss to Rowan on Sept. 9 in a neutral contest at Pfeiffer University (N.C.). The Eagles recorded more shots overall (10) and on goal (6) than Rowan (6 and 3, respectively), but unfortunately were not able to equalize a 40th minute goal from Rowan’s sophomore forward Abby Daigle.

“We knew it was going to be a difficult game,” said Coach Patberg. “We just weren’t as sharp taking care of the ball as we had been in our previous three games.”

The Eagles continue their non-conference slate with games on Sept. 15 and 16 against Lynchburg College (Va.) and Thomas More College (Ke.), respectively, at Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.).

After last week’s mesmerizing 5-4 overtime victory against Washington and Lee University (Va.), the Emory men’s soccer team maintained their early season momentum in the Ciallella Classic in New Jersey during Sept. 8 and 9. The Eagles edged past Rowan University (N.J.) 1-0 and Rutgers University-Camden (N.J.) 2-1 to preserve a perfect start to the season.

Against Rowan, junior midfielder Jun Tsuru supplied an assist for the game-winning goal scored by junior midfielder Keegan McCombie. McCombie delivered the lone goal of the game with a shot that rifled off the crossbar.

In a game dominated by first-class defensive quality, sophomore goalkeeper Cole Gallagher notched his second shutout of the season to record his eighth career shutout between the posts for Emory. Gallagher made two saves to keep the Eagle’s winning streak alive.

Head Coach Corey Greiner said he was pleased with how his defense responded after conceding four goals to Washington and Lee.

“We realized that we definitely had to continue to improve on a lot of areas, obviously defending being one of them,” Greiner said. “For this past week, [the goal] was keeping our shape, making sure guys were spacing, communicating effectively and getting some of the reads down a little bit earlier so that we could snuff out issues before they became dangerous chances against us.”

Against Rutgers-Camden, Emory fought for a scrappy 2-1 win. Rutgers-Camden had nearly double the shots on target than Emory (7-4), but Gallagher made five crucial saves (notching his 12th save of the season) to build Emory’s winning streak to four games. Sophomore forward Nate Sampson credits the team’s defensive solidity as a key factor to their success.

“[Gallagher] has been playing incredible,” Sampson said. “Our whole defense played unbelievable this weekend. We would not have been in the games without them.”

Greiner was also impressed with Gallagher’s performances.

“I still feel comfortable and confident with [Gallagher] as a starting role in the goalkeeping position,” Greiner said. “As of now, he’s locked it down.”

Emory started positively against Rowan, getting on the scoreboard first through Sampson, assisted by Tsuru. Sampson drilled in his first Emory career goal in style, blasting the ball off the crossbar from the top of the 18-yard box. Despite Rowan leveling the score five minutes later, a late header courtesy of senior midfielder Tyler Santee snatched the win for Emory.

Tsuru affirmed his role as a creator and delivered another game-changing assist. His pair of assists from both games earned him the Offensive MVP award, while Santee was awarded the Defensive MVP award.

Sampson emphasized Tsuru’s importance for team success.

“[Tsuru] is always dangerous,” Sampson said. “He is really good offensively, one-on-one. He can beat anybody down the line. He serves a lot of really good balls in and finishes really well too.”

The Eagles will look to keep their undefeated season alive when they host Millsaps College (Miss.) on Sept. 15 at 5 p.m.

Senior midfielder Tyler Santee dribbles past a Hardin Simmons University (Texas) defender. The Eagles shut out the Cowboys 2-0 at the Sonny Carter Invitational on Aug. 31. Sarah Taha/Staff

The No. 8 Emory men’s soccer team started their regular season on a high note with two home victories to win the Sonny Carter Invitational. In a thrilling start to the season, the Eagles claimed a 2-0 victory over Hardin Simmons University (Texas) on Aug. 31 and a 5-4 overtime victory over No. 14 Washington and Lee University (Va.) on Sept. 1.

Against Hardin Simmons, the Eagles were on the front foot. Within the first 30 minutes, the Eagles forced four corner kicks and four total shots. The first goal of the season came in the 40th minute from senior forward Moustafa Khattab, who knocked in a rebound from close range after a shot from freshman forward Ethan Cohen.

The Eagles’ second goal came early in the second half from junior midfielder Jun Tsuru, who capitalized on a rebound from his own shot, assisted by Khattab’s expert maneuvering from within the box.

The defensive efforts of sophomore goalkeeper Cole Gallagher preserved the game’s clean sheet by registering three saves in the game.

The next day, the Eagles overpowered the Washington and Lee Generals in a match that may go down as an absolute classic. Between the two teams, there were nine total goals scored — 16 shots on goal and seven saves between the two keepers.

Washington and Lee stole the lead 3-1 in the first half, a score normally seen as an insurmountable deficit. The Eagles miracuously tied the game 4-4, despite conceding another goal, scoring three goals in the second half. Emory clinched the Sonner Carter Invitational with an overtime goal courtesy of Khattab, who finished the weekend with two goals and an assist.

Senior midfielder Tyler Santee scored on a bicycle from a corner kick for his first goal of the season as well as the first goal of the game in the 15th minute.

Head Coach Cory Greiner described the feat as a “wonder goal,” emphasizing the team’s awe in the immediate minutes afterwards.

Washington and Lee responded with a goal of their own less than a minute later from senior forward Tyler Runge, who drilled a rebound to the upper 90 off a blocked shot. The Generals scored two more goals in the next 10 minutes to bring the score to 3-1 going into halftime.

“We weren’t able to get out of our own half,” Khattab said. “It was really just a mental thing, and we could’ve been more focused.”

The second and third goals Washington and Lee scored showed how Emory became a little too comfortable and needed a wake-up call.

“Two of their goals were replicas,” Greiner said. “Not to take anything away from them, but it came down to a few of our mistakes and mental errors.”

The Eagles brought the game back to a more manageable 3-2 score through a goal from freshman defender Will Tichy assisted by a far cross from Tsuru. Ten minutes later, Emory tied the game in the 65th minute with a goal by sophomore defender Josh Berman, also assisted by Tsuru.

The Eagles finally took over the lead in the 74th minute with a goal from Cohen in which he beat the Washington and Lee keeper on a fast break.

But in the 82nd minute, the Eagles lost the lead yet again to a goal scored by Washington and Lee’s junior defender Griffin Scott for his first goal of the season. The goal set up a golden goal overtime in which the next team to score would win the game.

“It was almost like we scored the fourth with too much time left,” Greiner said. “We sat back and became more defensive after we scored, and our mentality switched.”

The winning goal to close out an exceptional victory from the Eagles came in the 92nd minute. Khattab rifled the ball through traffic and into the goal, capping off a very promising start to the season for the team.

“Going into to every overtime game, I started planning to score a goal because you have to have that attitude,” Khattab said.

The goal was a surreal moment for the team as they clinched this improbable comeback victory against a highly ranked opponent.

“I honestly felt like I was in a Nike commercial,” Khattab said. “It was an unreal feeling and I’m just happy I could help the team get an unreal win.”

The Eagles displayed great teamwork this weekend, Greiner said.

“It is encouraging to know the guys can build off those moments when they face adversity,” Greiner said. “They can’t be afraid to do the dirty work where they don’t get recognized as much.”

However, the game’s scoreline suggests that there is still work to be done.

“Usually you don’t win games where you give up four goals, so we have work to do defensively,” Greiner said.

The Eagles look to build on these early season performances when they travel to Rutgers University-Camden (N.J.), where they will play against Rowan University (N.J.) in the Ciallella Classic on Sept. 8 at 2 p.m.

UPDATE (9/10/18 9:38 p.m.): An earlier version of this article was not posted in its entirety. The rest of the article has been added.

Senior forward Moustafa Khattab sports a Seattle Sounders jersey in a matchup against the University of Washington on July 7. Khattab played on the Sounders U-23 team this past summer. Courtesy of Robert Bunn Photography

If you hear of a moose in Georgia, you would most likely be confused as to why a cold-loving animal stumbled down South. But around the WoodPEC field during Emory men’s soccer practice, “Mous” is the affectionate nickname for senior midfielder Moustafa Khattab whose signature goal celebration involves putting his hands on his head like his namesake’s antlers.

Khattab is one of few collegiate soccer players who can list Professional Development League (PDL) experience on their resume, a key stepping stone on the way to Major League Soccer (MLS).

He enters his final year on the Emory men’s soccer team with impressive titles and a transformative summer experience. Named to the All-American Athletic Association First Team and the United Soccer Coaches South Atlantic All-Region Second Team in 2017, Khattab has averaged roughly one goal or assist every other game as an Eagle to date. Most recently, Khattab had the opportunity to play with the Seattle Sounders U-23 team over the summer.

Although Khattab was born in Toronto, Canada, he credits his Egyptian heritage as the main reason he chose to stick with soccer. He also cites Egypt and Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah’s efforts to get Egypt to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup as a major inspiration.

“I’ve … played soccer my whole life,” Khattab said. “A big part of [why that is] is my dad — he played before. Both of my parents are Egyptian. It’s a big part of Egyptian culture.”

But Khattab says the unique style of play in Europe is one of his main influences. In high school, he was recruited for trial experiences with A.S. Roma and Pescara in Italy.

Then-high school student Khattab poses next to the A. S. Roma football insignia. He was recruited for trial experiences in both Roma and Pescara in Italy. Courtesy of Moustafa Khattab

“I’ve always prided myself on being a very technical player, and being exposed to that environment was really important,” he said. “The speed of play is quicker; it is a lot of one-touch, two-touch.”

Khattab also said the squad depth was noticeably deeper in Europe than in Canada or the U.S.

“At every club, everyone is good, and that makes such a big difference in training because everyone can play and the level is higher,” he said. “[At Emory], there is not a ton of depth.”

Despite his desire to play in Europe, Khattab found himself on the roster for the Seattle Sounders U-23 team this summer.

Currently pursuing a degree in business administration, Khattab seized the opportunity to gain more soccer experience while interning at Bank of America and Merrill Lynch in Seattle. He sent his soccer resume with his career highlights to U-23 Sounders Head Coach Darren Sawatzky, who told him he did not need a trial to be accepted onto the team. Instead, Sawatzky told him that he would have to earn playing time.

When he learned of his acceptance to the team, Khattab said he felt the true value of his training and hard work coming to fruition.

“It felt good,” he said. “Putting on the badge, putting on the jersey, it was a great source of pride. It felt like a good combination of all of the hard work and sacrifices that I have had to make.”

While playing with the Sounders, Khattab said he noticed a difference in expectations and intensity overall.

“It was the first time that I was playing in a professional environment,” Khattab said. “At [Emory], I did not have to worry [about receiving playing time], but [with the Sounders] I always had to worry and I was always competing to try to play. Everyone had the highest expectation[s].”

Khattab’s Emory teammate and sophomore forward Nate Sampson cited Khattab’s versatility in attack and his creativity as his stand-out qualities.

“He is a really special attacking minded player,” Sampson said. “Not only is he able to create shots, make opportunities out of nothing, but he creates for other players as well.”

But Sampson said that Khattab’s talent is not his only contribution to the team — he also boosts team morale.

“He always brings positive energy to the team,” he said. “He is all about unity and bringing the team together. Everyone looks up to Mous.”

Additionally, Sampson admires Khattab’s work ethic and commitment to soccer, referencing the effort Khattab puts in outside Emory practices.

“He would encourage me to stay before and after every practice, and we would work out every day [in the spring] for a couple of hours,” he said. “Most guys aren’t doing that, but then he would stay and run several miles after, and play another hour or two. Any accolades he gets, he more than deserves it.”

Khattab dribbles the ball in a match against Hardin-Simmons University (Texas) on Aug. 31. He scored the first goal of the season in the 40th minute, securing the Eagles’ 2-0 victory. Sarah Taha/Staff

Despite getting limited playing time with the Sounders this summer, Khattab said he learned to accept and improve from criticism.

“I learned that I definitely had the talent and skill to play, but I also learned that I had to improve my concentration and defensive game,” Khattab said. “That was definitely my biggest weakness. My coach told me, ‘No doubt, you have the skill, but you need keep working on your fitness and your defense.’ ”

Khattab admitted he did not have many defensive responsibilities as an offensive player for the Eagles, but more defensive effort was expected as a Sounder.

Despite the increased challenges on the professional pitch, Khattab said his summer experience only augmented his commitment to playing soccer after Emory. After graduation, he plans to take six months off to look for a soccer contract.

The Sounders U-23 team has already invited Khattab back for next summer. However, Khattab’s sights are set even higher — he plans to aim for the S2 team and eventually, the first team. He hopes to get a trial with his hometown club Toronto FC, as well.

Additionally, Khattab said he remains hopeful of getting a call up to the Canadian national team. Khattab is skeptical about the United States and Canada’s chances of winning the 2020 FIFA World Cup, but the recent increase in soccer’s popularity in North America impressed him.

“There is no way [that the U.S. or Canada can win the World Cup] at least for another 20 years,” Khattab said. “I think both teams are on the right track. I think the sport is growing a lot, popularity in the MLS has gone up a ton.”

When asked about the possibility of playing in Europe, Khattab admitted he would prefer a European club over the MLS.

“The [playing] level is higher,” he said. “Everyone’s dream is to play in Europe.”

However, Khattab mentioned that an MLS move might be more practical, adding that he would enjoy playing professional soccer in his home country.

“Mous” plans to end his final season as an Emory Eagle on a high note. After Khattab scored the 11th game-winning goal of his career in a memorable 5-4 victory against Washington and Lee University (Va.), winning the Sonny Carter Invitational title and the MVP award on Sept. 1, the signs are pointing to another successful season.

CORRECTION (9/8/18 at 12:03 a.m.): In a previous version of this article, the first photo photo was improperly credited. The article has been updated to reflect that the photo is courtesy of Robert Bunn Photography. 

The Emory women’s soccer team started its season off strong with two wins this past weekend at Trinity University in San Antonio.

The Eagles secured a 1-0 victory over the University of Puget Sound (Wash.) Loggers on Aug. 31, and wrapped up the weekend with a 2-0 shutout against Pacific Lutheran University (Wash.) Lutes on Sept. 2.

Although the score looks close on paper, Emory held most of the possession with 32 shots versus Puget Sound’s three shots.

Senior forward Abbe McCarter scored the lone goal of the match against the Loggers in the 26th minute off a corner kick.

The Eagle offensive unit offered considerable support with senior midfielder Madison Phaneuf and sophomore midfielder Yasmin Toy making a team-high of three shots on target each, and junior forward Shivani Beall making a game-high of seven shots. Senior goalkeeper Dani Staffin closed the match with her first clean sheet of the season.

Two days later, Emory established its dominance over the Lutes with a 25-to-six shot advantage, leading with eight more shots on goal. Freshman midfielder Lindsey Breskow and McCarter delivered the Eagles’ success. Breskow scored her first career goal in the ninth minute off a pass from junior forward Caroline Kolski. McCarter added her second goal of the season in the 87th minute, assisted by sophomore defender Caroline Moore.

Breskow said she was initially shocked after she scored the goal.

“I didn’t even realize that I scored,” Breskow said. “Then it hit me, and I got excited. Getting the win after makes it so much better.”

Breskow led the Eagle attack with five shots, three of which were on target. Moore and Beall added on four shots, with two on target. Staffin finished an excellent showing with three saves and her 10th career shutout.

Even though the Eagles secured the win, they failed to capitalize on all of their chances to score.

“We had so many opportunities,” Breskow said. “We knew we were the better team, [but] it would have been nice to get a few more goals on the board [to] show how much we dominated the game.”

Patberg seemed optimistic about the Eagles’ season debut performance.

“It has been quite a few years [since we’ve started off] with two wins,” Head coach Sue Patberg said. “[It] builds a lot of excitement within the program and outside the program as well.”

After solid preseason for the team, it has not taken much time for the team to collaborate even with 10 new members.

“[The first-year] players have assimilated into the team really well,” Patberg said. “[The] nine seniors [from last year] have been terrific leaders.”

The Eagles will return home to play against Oglethorpe University (Ga.) on Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.

Football pundits declared the 2018 FIFA World Cup to be one of the greatest ever played, a difficult claim to refute. The month-long tournament featured astonishing upsets, ridiculous goals, miraculous comebacks, strategic brilliance and everything in between. Rising stars proved their worth on the biggest stage, including French forward Kylian Mbappe and English goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Most notably, video assistant referees (VAR) made its controversial World Cup debut. It was a World Cup that defied expectations in every way possible.

Match Highlights: Upsets, Restored Belief and Comebacks

The six-goal thriller between France and Croatia (4-2) rounded out the rollercoaster of the tournament to make it the highest scoring final since 1958 — a game that featured former Brazilian forward Pele, arguably the greatest player in history.

France, a favorite going into the tournament, upheld its reputation by claiming a second World Cup title. While other football giants like Argentinian forward Lionel Messi and Brazilian forward Neymar da Silva Santos Junior fell away, Les Bleus played an efficient style of football to win the title. Manager Didier Deschamps did not produce the most exciting playing style, with the exception of the 4-3 win over Argentina. France labored in the group stage matches against weak opposition like Australia and Peru, winning by only a single goal in both games. Yet, Deschamps brought a sense of composure to a star-studded team to ensure a balanced use of France’s talent.

The combination of defensive solidity, midfield control (namely N’golo Kante’s superhuman stamina) and offensive firepower (forwards Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann) was crucial in overcoming challenging opponents like Argentina (4-3), Uruguay (2-0) and Belgium (1-0).

Croatia’s grit and fighting spirit throughout the tournament earned them a surprising first-ever second-place finish. Croatia conceded early goals against Denmark, Russia and England in the knockout stages, yet astonishingly overturned those deficits and prevailed. The team ran themselves into the ground (midfielder Luka Modric covered the most distance of any player in the tournament with over 39 miles), playing three consecutive knockout stage games into extra time, two of which went into penalty shootouts.

That said, Croatia did not simply rely on sheer determination and fortune. Croatia had a talented team: Modric and midfielder Ivan Rakitic are two of the world’s best midfielders, and were crucial in orchestrating Croatia’s play. Considering the team’s history — it has only participated in four World Cups since 1998, two of which they achieved third and second-place finishes — Croatia’s run was truly remarkable.

In contrast, the best finish for the U.S. national team from 10 tournament appearances is a single third-place finish in 1930. Croatia won every game except the final, even beating pre-tournament favorites Argentina 3-0.

Unfortunately for Croatia, some of their star players such as Modric and forward Mario Mandzukic are older and will likely peak before the 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, with younger talents like midfielder Mateo Kovacic, along with the guidance of veterans like Modric, Croatia will fancy their chances of winning future titles.

Russia, an arguably more remarkable underdog story, entered this tournament as the lowest-ranked team and made it to the quarterfinals, producing the upset of the tournament by knocking out 2010 World Champions Spain at the Round of 16. Only a determined effort by Croatia meant Russia would lose in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals, but their unforeseen success restored hope in a country that had given up on football.

The same can be said about England, the perennial underachievers, despite having many stars in past World Cups like former midfielder David Beckham. England fans were convinced that “[football was] coming home,” just two games away from vindication. England finished a very respectable fourth place, and with a young team, English supporters will take solace knowing that their players will only improve in the future.

Standout Players

FIFA awarded Modric the Golden Ball (given to best player in the tournament), English forward Harry Kane the Golden Boot (given to top goalscorer) and Mbappe the Best Young Player Award.

While all three of these players have been household names for seasoned football fans, Mbappe has transitioned from top-class to one of the elite. Becoming the youngest player since Pele to score in a World Cup final and finishing with four goals overall, Mbappe’s electrifying pace and clinical finishes made many analysts throw his name into the hat for the next Ballon d’Or, a French award given to the best club and international player of the year. He solidified his world-class status with arguably the best individual performance for an outfield player in the entire tournament against favorite Argentina. Mbappe scored two goals and earned France another goal after winning a penalty kick.

While Belgian Thibaut Courtois earned the Golden Glove for best goalkeeper, credit must be given to Croatia’s Danijel Subasic, who made four saves in penalty shootouts (only the third goalkeeper in history to do so) and three penalty saves against Denmark.

Conclusion

The 21st edition of the most-watched event in world sports satisfied both casual fans and football traditionalists alike. The multitude of upsets, last-minute goals and incredible individual performances made this World Cup one of the most remarkable in recent memory. Smaller nations outside the football hierarchy (namely Germany, Argentina and Brazil) can take note of Croatia’s and Russia’s performances and be inspired to contend for titles previously outside of their grasp.

While it is sad that the tournament is over, fans can look forward to the the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup as the United States seeks to defend its title, the UEFA Euro 2020 and the 2026 World Cup hosted by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is set to take place this summer from June 14 to July 15 in Russia. Despite the United States men’s national soccer team’s (USMNT) failure to qualify, there are still plenty of highly anticipated matchups in the group stage and beyond. Here is a breakdown of all the groups to guide you through one of the most anticipated events in sports competition.

Group A: Egypt vs. Uruguay

Led by Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah who recently won the English Premier League Player of the Year title, Egypt will enter the competition for the first time in 28 years. Uruguay, a veteran team, qualified out of the brutal South American qualifying group, CONMEBOL. With two strong offensive teams, this matchup promises a high-scoring affair.

Players to Watch: Salah (Egypt), Luis Suarez (Uruguay), Edinson Cavani (Uruguay)

Salah tied the Premier League record with 31 goals in a season. As for Cavani and Suarez, the striker pair for Uruguay, they are both known for being prolific in front of the goal for both club and country — Suarez has scored 23 goals and six assists in the Spanish League for his club FC Barcelona, and Cavani has scored 25 for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in France this season.

Predicted Standings

  1. Uruguay
  2. Egypt
  3. Russia
  4. Saudi Arabia

Group B: Portugal vs. Spain

In one of the most anticipated matchups to kick off the group stage, this high-profile game will not disappoint. Arguably the best player on the planet, Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo will face off against many of his current Real Madrid teammates and the club’s rivals from Barcelona when the neighboring countries play. On paper, Spain has more talent with many of its players starting for top European teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, but Ronaldo always pulls through for his team.

Players to Watch: Ronaldo (Portugal), Alvaro Morata (Spain), Diego Costa (Spain)

Portugal will go as far as Ronaldo will take them. Two years ago, he led them to a European championship, so anything is possible. Apart from all the talent on Spain’s roster, the most intriguing storyline is who will lead the front line as the striker — Morata, who plays for Chelsea FC or Costa of Atletico Madrid. Despite Costa’s replacement by Morata on Chelsea and his playing time delay, Costa is currently in better shape, having scored six goals throughout all competitions in 2018 compared to Morata’s three goals.

Predicted Standings:

  1. Spain
  2. Portugal
  3. Iran
  4. Morocco

Group C: France vs. Denmark

France enters the tournament as a younger team, brimming with talent. Denmark, on the other hand, is a very consistent team, boasting a group of elite Premier League players.

Players to Watch: Christian Eriksen (Denmark), Paul Pogba (France), Kylian Mbappe (France)

Eriksen has been an unsung hero for Tottenham Hotspur F.C. for the past couple years, dominating the midfield. This World Cup could show the world what he is capable of as a facilitator in attack. Pogba, who plays as a midfielder for Manchester United F.C., has been hyped as a rising soccer star. For the past three seasons, he has accounted for at least 18 goals from midfield for Manchester United and Italy’s Juventus F.C. This is his chance to secure stardom status when the stakes are highest. Mbappe, at the ripe age of 19, has caught European soccer by storm with AS Monaco F.C. and Paris Saint-Germain F.C. (PSG), and will undoubtedly show off his incredible attacking prowess this summer.

Predicted Standings:

  1. France
  2. Peru
  3. Denmark
  4. Australia

Group D: Argentina vs. Croatia

Group D could be top to bottom the most impressive group, but this game stands out above the rest. It features two teams with a lot to prove when they face off. Argentina, the 2014 World Cup runner-up, is looking to make another trip to the finals after losing to Germany in 2014. Croatia has the talent to run deep in the tournament, but the team has struggled to reach their potential in recent international tournaments, including bowing out in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup.

Players to Watch: Lionel Messi (Argentina), Luka Modric (Croatia), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Iceland)

At age 30, this may be Messi’s last opportunity to win a World Cup and cement his legacy as one of the greatest players to ever touch a soccer ball. Modric, the fulcrum of the Croatian midfield, created six assists for Real Madrid this season and boasts a passing accuracy of nearly 90 percent. Sigurdsson operates in a similar role as Modric as Iceland looks to continue their form from their Cinderella run in the 2016 European Championships where they beat England to reach the quarterfinals.

Predicted Standings:

  1. Argentina
  2. Iceland
  3. Croatia
  4. Nigeria

Group E: Brazil vs. Switzerland

Brazil is looking to rebound from their humiliating 7-1 loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semifinals on home soil. But first they face a tough test from a balanced Switzerland squad.

Players to Watch: Neymar Jr. (Brazil), Granit Xhaka (Switzerland)

All eyes will be on Neymar after his controversial transfer last summer from Barcelona to PSG for a record transfer fee of more than $200 million. Neymar is currently injured, but he faces immense pressure to return to form. Xhaka is a versatile midfielder for Switzerland who has proven a key cog in the middle of the field for Arsenal F.C. His box-to-box ability will be vital for Switzerland’s success in the tournament.

Predicted Standings:

  1. Brazil
  2. Switzerland
  3. Costa Rica
  4. Serbia

Group F: Germany vs. Mexico

In a 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup Semi-Final rematch, Mexico will look to bounce back from last year’s 4-1 loss and try to defeat the top-ranked team in the world, Germany. The defending 2014 World Cup champions are in a great position to repeat their success but will face their first true test of the tournament against Mexico, the top team in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying group.  

Players to Watch: Timo Werner (Germany), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany), Manuel Neuer (Germany) Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (Mexico)

Germany has experienced and talented players in every position. The only real potential weakness is at the striker position, which Werner will most likely occupy. He is young and fairly unschooled, but has recently come into the spotlight. Neuer usually occupies the starting goalkeeper and, when healthy, is considered the top goalkeeper in the world. However, he has been injured for the majority of the season which has casted a dubious light on Germany’s campaign. Goalkeeper ter Stegen has had a standout year for his club Barcelona having only conceded 19 goals in 33 league games this season. Finally, Chicharito is the all time leading scorer for Mexico with 49 goals in 100 international appearances. He will need to provide offensive firepower when the team needs a goal in order to advance.  

Predicted Standings

  1. Germany
  2. Mexico
  3. Sweden
  4. South Korea

Group G: Belgium vs. England

Another highly anticipated opening matchup pits two teams which feature many players that compete against each other during the club season in England. England is bringing a younger squad than previous tournaments with a new manager, which will give a new look to their team. Belgium is looking to finally capitalize on their golden generation of players, who are all currently reaching their prime.

Players to Watch: Harry Kane (England), Eden Hazard (Belgium), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)

Kane, the main attacking threat for the England squad, has been a goal-scoring machine the past couple of years for Tottenham Hotspur. Hazard and De Bruyne are the keys to Belgium’s success as they are the two biggest creators of offense for the team both through goalscoring and distributing.

Predicted Standings:

  1. Belgium
  2. England
  3. Panama
  4. Tunisia

Group H: Colombia vs. Poland

These two highly ranked teams full of clinical goal scorers face off in a matchup that will likely determine the winner of Group H.

Players to Watch: James Rodriguez (Colombia), Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Sadio Mane (Senegal)

James was the breakout star of the last World Cup, which helped him earn a transfer to Real Madrid that summer. His production on the field stalled last season, but he has enjoyed a resurgence at his current club, FC Bayern Munich. At Bayern Munich, Lewandowski has arguably been the best pure striker in soccer for the last couple of years. Poland will look to him to take them past the group stage. Mane, who plays for Liverpool, has been the main attacking force for an upstart Senegal squad that looks poised to upset major teams in this tournament.

Predicted Standings:

  1. Columbia
  2. Senegal
  3. Poland
  4. Japan