The men’s soccer team went undefeated against two University Athletic Association (UAA) foes over the weekend, notching a 5-2 victory over Case Western Reserve University Friday and a 1-1 tie against the University of Rochester on Sunday. The Eagles improved their record to 7-5-2 (2-1-1 UAA).
Key offensive performances from seniors fueled the win over Case Western. Senior defender Alex Scott struck first, heading in a corner kick from fellow senior defender David Garofalo only three minutes into the game.
After the Spartans tied the game at 1-1, sophomore forward Dylan Price gave the Eagles the lead on another assist by Garofalo in the 22nd minute of play.
The goal was Price’s tenth on the season, already besting his career high set over his freshman campaign.
Scott struck again in the 29th minute on another header, giving Emory a 3-1 lead at the intermission. Sophomore defender Jeffrey Cochran was credited with the assist.
Senior midfielder Andrew Natalino extended the Eagles’ lead with a goal off yet another assist from Garofalo in the 47th minute. Natalino scored again in the 53rd minute off long passes from freshman midfielder Nick Schook and junior midfielder Alistair Moore, establishing a commanding 5-1 lead for the Eagles.
Friday marked Natalino’s third game with two or more goals on the season. He now leads the Eagles in both goals and points with 11 and 23, respectively.
The senior co-captain cited the entire team’s improved play as reason for his strong numbers.
“Statistics are a total team effort, so when anyone on the team has a good year statistically it makes everyone feel good because it usually means that the team is doing well as a whole,” Natalino said.
Garofalo’s three assists matched a school record and increased his team-leading season total to six. It was the first time an Emory player recorded three assists in one game since 2010.
Sunday’s matchup provided much more drama. The Eagles dueled Rochester to a 1-1 tie that lasted two overtimes and kept the Eagles with a share of the UAA lead.
The Eagles had opportunities to grab an early lead in the first half but were unable to convert. Scott had a shot deflected by Rochester senior goalkeeper Scott Garfing and knocked another off the post. The Eagles held a 9-1 advantage in shots at the end of the frame.
After more back-and-forth play, the Yellowjackets took a 1-0 lead on a goal from sophomore forward Jack Thesing in the 63rd minute of play.
The lead looked like it would stand until Garofalo notched his fourth assist of the weekend, launching a corner kick to junior forward Andrew Jones, who knocked it in to knot the game up at one apiece.
The goal was Jones’ third on the season, moving him to third on the team in points with 11.
Momentum shifted in overtime, with Rochester owning a 9-2 lead in shots over both periods. Still, the Emory defense held strong and neither team was able to send in a game-winner.
Freshman goalkeeper Abe Hannigan, now 5-2-1 on the season, foiled the Yellowjackets’ best scoring opportunity in overtime when he deflected an upper-corner shot from Thesing.
The 1-1 tie wrapped up the team’s Senior Day, in which each of its seven graduating players – Garofalo, Natalino, Scott, Moore, midfielder David Langton, midfielder Nick Jones, and goalkeeper Alex Wong–were honored before the start of the game. The Eagles’ senior class has put together a 43-20-6 record over the last four seasons.
Emory remained in a tie for first place in the UAA, but the league remains wide open. Though the team has its eye on a conference title, Natalino maintains that they have an even loftier goal for the end of the regular season.
“A UAA title would mean a lot to the seniors,” he said. “Out of my four years here I haven’t seen a class who deserves it more than this one. But ultimately, our goal is a national championship.”
One contest remains before the squad takes on the teeth of their UAA schedule: the team’s final home match of the season is against Covenant College on Friday, October 19th at 7 p.m.
– By Ryan Smith