The Lawrence University men’s soccer team came into last weekend with a 0-5 record and hopes of grabbing two wins. The men were matched against Aurora’s Spartans Saturday.
After a preseason fraught with injury, the Vikings welcomed back several key players. Sophomore defender Charlie Mann returned after being out with a strained hip flexor. After suffering a separated shoulder, senior captain Stephen Exarhos was back on the field.
With a solid, healthy starting line-up, the Vikes were ready to play. Both teams came out hard as soon as the whistle blew, but the Spartans struck first. In the 27th minute, Christian Foote scored for Aurora. It was the Vikings’ turn to tally a goal when they were awarded a penalty kick before half, which junior captain David Caprile easily put in the back of the net.
Despite the Vikings’ tying goal, the Spartans came out for the second half physical and determined. They dominated possession and outshot Lawrence 11 to seven. Though the Vikings put forth a valiant effort, the Spartans scored again late in the second half.
Despite Lawrence’s best effort to put another in the net, Aurora returned to Illinois with a win. This left the team frustrated and determined to play better on Sunday. When asked about what he feels the team needs to improve on for future games, Caprile stated, “We need to improve on holding possession. So far this year, we have not been very successful holding the ball, which leads to us chasing a lot on defense.”
The Vikings came out onto the field Sunday with a vengeance, ready to end their losing streak. Their great communication and quick passes left the Lakeland Muskies scrambling.
Both teams had numerous shots on goal but it was junior midfielder Hashim Allah-Morad who scored for the Vikes in the 44th minute, assisted by senior forward Vince Butitta. Sophomore goalkeeper Steve Solomon played an amazing game with five brilliant saves, shutting out the Muskies.
This success for the boys could not have been accomplished without communication on the field. When asked how important it is for him to be vocal on the field, Solomon responded, “It’s extremely important. I’m the farthest back on the field so I can see the whole field and know what needs to be done in order to maintain organization.”
After graduating seven seniors, Lawrence has a relatively new team. Mann commented that this can take a toll on the team chemistry: “We are a very young team, having lost many seniors last year, so I feel as though we are still in the process of understanding how teammates around us think and play. Once we become relaxed, we can play our own game and feel comfortable.”
Both Solomon and Caprile mentioned their goals for the season include making it to the conference tournament, and then eventually to the NCAA tournament. The next home game for the boys is Sept. 24 against Grinnell.