The Emory men’s soccer team must be seeing ghosts this Halloween. The Eagles traveled north and played their final two road games only to wind up with a 2-2 draw against Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) (Pa.) Friday, Oct. 27, before losing an emotional 3-2 game against Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) (Ohio) in double overtime Oct. 29.
The weekend’s results leave the Eagles in fourth place in the UAA at 3-2-1 in conference play (11-5-1 overall) with only one game remaining. They will likely need to pull out a win Nov. 4 against No. 2 University of Rochester (N.Y.) Yellowjackets (4-1-1 in conference, 11-2-3 overall) to make the NCAA tournament.
The Eagles’ weekend got off to a rocky start after allowing two quick goals to the CMU Tartans in the 16th and 18th minutes. However, Head Coach Cory Greiner’s calm halftime speech and tactical adjustments got Emory right back into the game, according to junior defender Aidan Datene.
To start the second half, the Eagles changed their formation from their standard 4-1-4-1 to a 3-5-2 to help generate some offense and pressure the Tartans. The amped-up pressure caught CMU off guard, and Emory senior forward Christian Meyer took advantage. He sent a cross into the penalty box, where junior midfielder Moustafa Khattab hit a one-timer to the lower right corner for his fifth goal of the season and put Emory on the board in the 48th minute.
In the 56th minute, Datene got a head on senior midfielder Adam Ferguson’s far post corner kick to tie the game with his third goal of the season.
“We don’t have too many set plays on corner kicks,” Datene said. “You just have to beat your man. So I put myself back post and … the ball looked like it was going short post but came through clean. I got a clean head on it; it ricocheted off one of their guys and rolled in. It was an incredible feeling.”
The game settled down from that point. CMU’s defense tightened, and the Eagles misfired on their final three shots of the game, including two corner-kick opportunities in the second overtime.
Nevertheless, the Eagles left Pittsburgh proud.
“Carnegie is always a tough opponent,” Datene said. “It was really good to see how the team came together to pull out that result on the road.
Against CWRU, Emory again found itself trailing early after surrendering an 18th-minute goal to CMRU junior midfielder Paul Darmstadter. The CWRU midfielder was able to gain positioning and headed the ball into the net off of freshman midfielder Connor Weber’s corner kick. This game, however, was much more of a back-and-forth affair. Emory junior defender Tyler Santee responded with a 15-yard goal in the 34th minute to knot the game up at 1-1.
The score remained even until the 54th minute when Emory freshman goalkeeper Cole Gallagher mishandled what appeared to be a routine save, allowing CWRU sophomore midfielder Zachary Senft to tap in an easy goal for a 2-1 lead.
Emory responded once more in the 77th minute when Khattab sent a 30-yard rocket to the upper right corner for the 2-2 equalizer.
Like the game against Carnegie Mellon, this one wasn’t decided in regulation but in double overtime, where Emory came up just short. Weber sent a corner kick over the outstretched arm of Gallagher and found the head of CWRU senior forward Michael Balog for the golden goal.
“Today was really unlucky,” Datene said. “It was our third double overtime loss of the season, which is really annoying. It puts us into a do or die situation where we need to win this weekend to make the [NCAA DIII] Tournament.”
Last year, Emory also closed out the season against Rochester with a birth in the NCAA DIII Tournament on the line. The Eagles lost 1-0. However, Datene believes that this year’s rematch will end with a different result.
“Most of the guys know the feeling of what we are about to go through, so they should be ready,” Datene said. “We have seven or eight seniors starting which I think will help us this year. We only had one senior starting last year, so we know the importance [of this game]. … We aren’t going to let this opportunity pass again.”
The Eagles’ senior day matchup against the University of Rochester will take place Nov. 4 at 11 a.m. on the WoodPEC Soccer Field.