Varun Maheshwari ‘23
The men’s soccer team, halfway through their season so far, has had very hot performances but cold results. Currently 2-9-2, their record doesn’t showcase the true talent, effort and work the team has put in so far.
The team looked to show up this year in the A-10 division after a fruitful trip to the West Coast, where they played competitive teams such as Oregon St. and Portland. Although, those games ended up in losses (0-2 and 0-6 respectively), the team felt prepared to take on their non-conference and conference teams back home on the East Coast.
Seven of the team’s nine losses were decided by one goal, two of those games in overtime, and one of those losses against the (then) #1 team in the nation, Wake Forest. Another highlight of the season was tying #14 North Carolina, 0-0, a game that went into double OT.
Davidson went into the UNC game as severe underdogs, with the ‘Cats being a 1-3 team at the time playing against the 14th ranked team in the nation. “We stepped out there with the mentality of ‘why not?’” said captain Jaime Diluzio ‘23. “The ACC teams try to break you through the middle. We worked a lot on defensive discipline with coaches and kept it compact throughout the game.” And the ‘Cats did just that.
Although UNC had 14 shots, only three were on goal. “We have to be organized in defending. We can’t be rushed with it [so that we] keep them on their heels.” added Coach Mike Babst. The team stayed consistent with their 3-4-3 formation and battled their way to a tie against a team that supposedly was supposed to win with flying colors.
Just a week later, the ‘Cats were faced with another huge opponent. They played #1 ranked Wake Forest at home on September 24th. Again, Davidson’s defensive unit were the superstars of that game, holding Wake Forest scoreless until the 78th minute, where a corner kick put the Deacs ahead.
Davidson was just coming off a 3 game losing streak, with losses against Oregon St, Portland and Furman, prior to the UNC game. “But, set pieces were an issue. That’s where they scored.” said Diluzio. Wake had 14 shots, with 5 on goal compared to Davidson’s 5 shots, with 2 on goal. However, Wake had 5 “set pieces” or corners, which resulted in their lone goal. “I was really proud of the effort and buy in for the game plan,” emphasized Coach Babst, “we turned the game into what we wanted but got unlucky late.”
The ‘Cats, after losing to Wake, went on a unfortunate 1-4-1 run, with overtime losses to VCU and George Mason. Currently, Davidson stands 12th in the A-10, 4 teams out from qualifying for the A-10 tournament. “We just have to live day by day, always look to the next challenge because each team is unique in their gameplan,” insisted Babst.
With 4 games left in their season, 3 in conference, the ‘Cats look to win out and put themselves in the position to qualify for the tournament. They’ll need help from LaSalle, George Washington, George Mason, and Fordham to have a shot.
Even if the ‘Cats miss out on postseason play this November, their strong in game performances under a new coach and system should bode well for the ‘Cats going forward.