The Bruins men’s soccer team faced the Southern Wesleyan University Warriors in the first official home game of the season Saturday, Sept. 6.
Two years ago, in their inaugural game, the Bruins faced the same foe, one of the strongest teams in the NCCAA teams, scoring four goals in an 8-4 loss. This year’s battle against the defending NCCAA champions ended in a 0-6 defeat for the Bruins.
The Bruins came out with energy, hoping to score the opening goal and unsettle their opponents. However, within 5 ½ minutes after the first whistle, Alejandro Sanchez lobbed a goal over Bruins’ senior goalkeeper, Joseph Wooster, from just outside the 18-yard box. The Warriors continued to create scoring chances during the early stages of the game. In one especially tense moment, junior Travis Woodham kept the ball inches away from the goal line until he was able to clear it to safety.
The Bruins managed to hold off the Warriors until, with 14 minutes left in the half, Joey Capone slipped past the defense and put the ball in the side of the net. Although they only scored twice during the first half, the Warriors were relentless, placing many shots on Wooster. Despite Wooster’s quick saves and leadership from the line, the Bruins could not find the spark that they needed. The scorching 90-degree heat didn’t make the struggle any easier and even resulted in a referee-mandated water break. Despite shots by sophomores John Wilson and Andrew Moisant, the Warriors held their 2-0 lead at the conclusion of the first half.
The Bruins returned refreshed for the second half, with an intensity of play that outshined the first half and brought the fans back into the game. Ball control was fairly consistent across the field as both teams dug in for the final half of the game.
Fifteen minutes after the whistle, Bruno Liozzi scored the first goal of the half for SWU from inside the 18. The Bruins rallied in the next six minutes by putting heavy pressure on the Warriors’ defense but were not able to breach the defense. During this attack, Bruin rookie, Will Peek, came off the bench for Ryan McCarty and made a solid contribution in his first regular season appearance.
Despite the vigorous defense and gritty effort from the Bruins, SWU’s Sanchez scored his second goal with 20 minutes left, putting the Warriors up 4-0. From that point, the outcome of the match was fairly certain. Goals by Joey Capone and Jonathan Ruiz within the final minutes of the game sealed the score at 0-6.
Despite the opening loss, this year presents a fresh team that is composed almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores. Freshman Will Peek remarked, “Even though we might start off a little rough, it’s definitely a building year, and we can learn from our mistakes. By the time most of us become juniors and seniors, we’ll be really unified and be able to really produce a strong showing in this season and seasons to come.”