Men’s soccer prepares for decisive games

Tariq Engineer

Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to St. Norbert’s college has left the Lawrence University men’s soccer team needing to win its last four conference games if it intends to make the MWC playoffs. With a current conference record of 1-4 (3-8 overall), the team cannot afford another loss.Once again Lawrence dominated possession only to turn up empty handed at the end of the game. Mid-way through the first half, St. Norbert scored on a rocket from 40 yards out. The ball appeared to be sailing safely over goalkeeper Chris Perry’s head, and the crossbar, when it suddenly dipped and slammed into the back of the net.

Stung into action, Lawrence pushed men forward but were unable to even the score before half-time. The second half continued where the first half left off, with Lawrence controlling the ball most of the time.

Viking Dave Balsewicz had two excellent chances to score late in the game, but was thwarted by the opposing keeper. A one-handed punch kept out a Balsewicz volley from the left. Then a series of deflections off St. Norbert defenders turned another Balsewicz attempt just wide of the post.

In spite of today’s defeat, however, the team remains optimistic about its chances. Midfielder Chad Dreyer says, “If we put our minds to it and we play with enough heart, we can win our last four games.”

Keeper Perry agrees, “We have the talent. We have the best defense in the conference. We just need a total team effort. We need to play to win.”

What the team also needs are goals. “Nobody seems to have a scorer’s mentality,” says Perry.

“It is a mental attitude which we need to cultivate. We need to attack the ball in the 18 yard box,” says forward Tom Lipari.

With the next conference game only three days away, time is running out for the Vikings. They will need to find their scoring touch this weekend or suffer the long, long wait until next season.

Lawrence also lost a non-conference game at home to Hamline University on Oct. 6.

Brad Uecker stole the game for Hamline when he scored with just four minutes left on the clock. Given time and space to control the ball by the home defense, he volleyed home from the edge of the 18 yard box.

Earlier Mito Garcia had given Hamline the lead in the 51st minute, following a goal-less first half. He outpaced the Lawrence defense to latch onto a through ball from Spencer Iverson. Faced with a one-on-one situation with Perry, he chipped the ball over the keeper to open the scoring.

Lawrence was back on level terms twenty-three minutes later. Captain Tom Conti knocked the ball over the top for Balsewicz to run onto. He coolly slotted the ball past the opposing keeper, Graham Plumhoff, to draw the home side level. The game then seemed destined for a 1-1 tie before Uerker’s late strike.