The Emory men’s soccer team finished its season with a draw against the No. 3 University of Rochester (N.Y.) on the road. The final score of 0-0 on Nov. 3 is reflective of the Eagles’ season of mixed highs and lows. The team finishes with an overall record of 9-7-2 and a conference record of 0-6-1, meaning they will not play in the NCAA tournament.
Saturday’s game started slowly for Emory. The match quickly began to turn against them, as Rochester found a shot on goal only three minutes into play. Sophomore goalkeeper Cole Gallagher was ready on the save, foreshadowing the team’s strong defensive play throughout the match.
The Eagles’ offense struggled throughout the first half. Though Rochester found consistent shots every few minutes, Emory failed to get a play far enough forward to add a shot to the scoreboard. The team would end the half without a single shot.
Despite the disappointing performance on the attack, the first half was full of praiseworthy play from the defense. None of Rochester’s six shots in the half found their way home. Gallagher marked a second save for himself before the end of the first 45 minutes.
Rochester entered the second half with continued high energy shown by two shots in the first five minutes of play. The second shot was poised to score until senior midfielder Tyler Santee made a literal “heads-up” play and blocked it with his face. Santee, a regular leader on the defensive end, kept the defensive spirit of the first half alive for the Eagles.
With 30 minutes left in regulation, Emory sophomore forward Nate Sampson found the team’s first shot of the match. True to the pattern they showed throughout the season, the Eagles accelerated, making the end of the second half their strongest segment of the match.
Emory added three shots on goal to the scoreboard before regulation expired. The shots all came from familiar stars on offense: senior forward Moustafa Khattab, junior midfielder Jun Tsuru and junior midfielder Keegan McCombie.
Overall, the Eagles showed vast improvement in the second half, only being outshot 4-5 as opposed to the 0-6 line from the starting half. In addition, their defense continued to hold out against consistent Rochester aggression.
Despite their gain in momentum near the end of regulation, the Eagles could not continue the pressure into what would end up being two overtime periods. The team did not find another shot for the remainder of the night. In the end, Emory’s defense knuckled down and resisted push after push from the Yellowjackets to bring the match to a draw.
“Our defense played very well,” Gallagher said. “We got out of a couple of close call situations, and I was really happy with how our back half and our defensive guys played.”
Gallagher ended the night with an impressive five saves, a positive way to end a difficult season and the key contribution to saving Emory from a loss.
Overall, the season was a tumultuous one for the Eagles. In regional play, the team was unstoppable, finding nine wins, one loss and one tie. But in conference play, they seemed like an entirely different team. The careful, precise and aggressive team that beat Millsaps College (Miss.) and Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.) 4-0 gave way to a fatigued and back-footed team who failed to score against the University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.), finishing both matches 0-2.
Although they were unable to accomplish their season goal of a tournament appearance, the Eagles managed to pull off a winning record and cement some truly entertaining matches in the records. A draw in their final match may not be as satisfying for fans and players alike, but against a highly ranked team like Rochester, it is hardly a disappointment.