The men’s soccer team entered Wednesday evening’s game against Oglethorpe University feeling confident, but Emory finished the game with a disappointing 3-1 defeat. The Eagles have lost their past two games, and now sit at 2-3-1 on the season.
“The whole team was obviously extremely disappointed in the game yesterday. We should not have lost because we are a much better team than the majority of the teams we play against,” said senior co-captain defender Andrew Natalino.
Entering Wednesday’s home game, the Eagles were aware that the Stormy Petrels were one of the stronger teams this year. The Eagles were hoping that their previous games had prepared them to take on the Petrels.
After 45 minutes of scoreless play, the Eagles edged the Petrels in shots with a 14-3 advantage. In the second frame, Emory would continue to outshoot its opponent but by a smaller margin of 10-8.
However, Oglethorpe was able to finish more of its shots early in frame to claim the win.
“Every game this season we have had a very large amount of shots but we, myself included, just need to do a better job of finishing our chances in order to take control of the game early,” Natalino said.
The Stormy Petrels came out dominant in the second frame, scoring their first goal just 17 seconds into the half. At the 45:17 mark, the Stormy Petrels’ freshman midfielder Nick Muntean sent a long pass into the box, which sophomore forward Carlos Gaston then sent to the back of the net to give the Petrels’ the first lead of the game, one that they would not relinquish.
In the 49th minute of play, the Eagles had the chance to score the equalizer goal, when junior forward Andrew Jones shot bounced off Oglethorpe’s goalkeeper’s hands, and hit the crossbar.
Sophomore forward and Emory’s “Athlete of the Week” player Dylan Price collected the rebound for a second attempt, but the Petrels’ keeper made the save to preserve his team’s 1-0 lead.
The Stormy Petrels were quick to attack again, notching their second goal in the 54th minute of play. Oglethorpe’s second goal was a rebound that was kicked from a shot that hit the post.
The Petrels then took a dominant 3-0 lead at 57:14 mark, after sophomore forward Jakub Madej scored on the penalty kick.
“Oglethorpe [three goals on 11 shots] finished their chances and we did not. We had 24 shots [one goal] which shows a domination of the game and we simply need to put teams away when we create that many opportunities,” Head Coach Sonny Travis said.
The Eagles have an offensive plan to help keep some pressure away from the wrong end of the field.
“Its sometimes very tough for our defense to hold off the other team for the whole game, so it will take loads of pressure off them if we can get up early,” Natalino said.
In the 64th minute of play, Natalino scored Emory’s lone goal of the night. Junior midfielder Nolan McKeever sent a long pass into the box, which Natalino then headered passed the Petrels’ keeper at the 64:09 mark.
The goal was Natalino’s 22nd career goal, which tied him for 19th most in school history along with two other Eagles (1993 and 1965).
For the last 27 minutes of the game, freshman goalkeeper Abe Hannigan guarded the net for the Eagles, making a save, and keeping the Stormy Petrels scoreless.
With this game now behind them, the Eagles realize there are certain things they need to do better in the games. Price commented on the plan for the Eagles’ future performance.
“In terms of preparing for the next game we need to make sure we are mentally prepared so that when the right opportunities arise we convert our chances and put teams away early,” Price said.
Travis and the players know that the Eagles are capable of good soccer, and they are ready to show it out on the field.
“I still believe in our team and that we can play with anybody. Now we have to get results,” Travis said. “My hat is off to Oglethorpe, who is having a good season. But the season, as a whole, is a marathon and not a sprint. We may have a long way to go, but I am confident in our players and I know that we will continue to improve and get the results we need.”
The Eagles will now travel to Mt. Berry, Ga. to play Berry College this Saturday, September 15th for a 1 p.m. game.
â€”By Nicola Braginsky