Men’s Soccer Report 10/18/18: La Salle Explorers

The men’s soccer team played Furman on September 4th. Davidson triumphed 1-0.

Max Pearson ’22

Men’s soccer correspondent 

Men’s Soccer have been doing very little wrong as of late. They travelled to Philadelphia to face the La Salle Explorers with a three game win streak, and are at the top of the conference in terms of win percentage. The Wildcats have scored in their last six matches in all competitions, both conference and non conference, and the last team to stop them scoring was No. 3 NCAA ranked UNC. The freshman class have been key to this terrific form; in fact for the last two weeks a Wildcat has won the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week, namely Henry Howell ’22 and then Lucas Hauth ’22.

The La Salle Explorers season has been the polar opposite. Before Saturday’s game they sat bottom of the table, tied for the lowest points, but bottom by win percentage. La Salle entered the match against Davidson without a win in conference play and without a win in all competitions in their last ten games, failing to score in six of those.

When the Wildcats played the St. Joseph Hawks in their last game, the styles of the two teams clashed and allowed the Wildcats to play around the more physical Hawks with ease at times, which showed in the final score of 6-2 to Davidson. However, the Explorers are one of, if not the most physical team Davidson has faced this season. Their style of long balls over the top of our defense for fast forwards to latch onto is very hard to deal with, and requires our defensive players to be on top of their game at all times.

After a fairly even first ten minutes, La Salle drew first blood. A characteristic long ball into the box from the left-hand side was cleared by center-back Jordan Hill ’19 straight into the arm of midfielder Mateo Alzate ’22. The referee deemed this to be an offense worthy of a penalty. La Salle’s Soji Olatoye beat ‘Cats keeper Sawyer Gaffney ‘20 in the following head-to-head, giving them a one goal advantage thirteen minutes into the first half. The first half finished with the same scoreline.

The ‘Cats came out for the second half ready to battle their way back into the game. Throughout the 90 minutes of regulation time, Davidson managed twelve shots, seven on target, and the majority of those came in the second period. The Wildcats sustained pressure can also be seen in the corner count, ten to La Salle’s four. This tight and high pressure period resulted in a handful of yellow cards for both teams, with the ‘Cats frustration levels rising as the final whistle neared. In the 77th minute, the Cats finally got the breakthrough, Jaylen Thompson ’20 contributing his third assist of the conference campaign to play in Quinn Dudek ’21, who fired a shot low and hard into the bottom right corner.

Davidson chased a winner to no avail. Jamie Diluzio ’21 had chance late in regulation time, but couldn’t find a way past the Explorers’ keeper. Both teams were exhausted from their efforts earlier in the match, which resulted in an uneventful overtime. The final score of 1-1 did not fully represent the Wildcat’s performance, who were unlucky not to win the game.

The A-10 still makes for good reading to all the Wildcat supporters. The Cats are sitting in the third spot with an extra game over those above. Davidson will be hosted by UMass in their next A-10 outing. UMass have been in good form and sit mid-table in the standings, and although Davidson is the better team, it will be a challenge to return to North Carolina with all three points. The ‘Cats play Fordham at home on Saturday, and depending on the result against UMass, they could be challenging for the outright top spot in the conference when they meet.

To read Max’s reflections on this week’s matchups, be sure to read next week’s correspondence.

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