Gritty soccer from LU men

Alexander Weck

Some things, despite being ugly, are capable of getting the job done. Case in point: the Chevrolet El Camino. Despite its atrocious looks, the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s were decades greatly improved by the El Camino’s versatile abilities as an automobile. In a sense, the conference portion of the men’s soccer season has been reminiscent of the car-truck hybrid’s ways.
Like the El Camino enjoying noteworthy success during its years of production, the Vikings have pulled off two wins despite less-than-pretty performances. The first was a 3-2 victory at Lake Forest – the squad that battled LU closely for their playoff berth last year. Though the win was merited in the end, the first half was a messy period which resulted in the Foresters dominating the shot count 9-2 and scoring a 39th-minute goal for the lead at the break.
The Vikings responded as freshman Tristan Lipe and sophomore Doug McEneaney slotted their first-ever goals early in the second half. Despite this lead and better play in the second half, Lawrence would give up an equalizing score in the 73rd minute only to have senior Elliott Spruell finish off the game with a tally in the 84th minute.
On Tuesday, the squad donned their white uniforms at home for the first time. Playing host to Ripon, the squad played a relatively sloppy game not indicated by the 4-0 final score. Ball control was somewhat lacking and the team seemed defensively incoherent for this far into the season. Klas Berghede decided to trade in his cherry-red Audi for the fashionable maroon and neon green of the City of Appleton garbage trucks. As garbage man, he put away two shots inside the goal area off rebounds. Spruell and sophomore Ryan Pikna added the remaining 2 goals.
Despite the overall criticisms written here, the team deserves praise for emerging 2-0 from these first conference games, a feat they haven’t accomplished since 1991. Many freshmen are showing promise, especially at filling the team’s center halfback void left by departed players from last year. Questions of size may come into play as many of the halfbacks and outside fullbacks that are seeing time stand less than 5 feet 10 inches.
The Midwest Conference as a whole is looking like a wild jumble of its previous self. Former power Beloit not only fell to second-class Ripon but was also crushed 8-0 by St. Norbert in a rematch of last year’s title game. Furthermore, Lake Forest is 1-3, Monmouth is undefeated, and Carroll hasn’t even played a game yet. The only team that is holding suit is St. Norbert … and of course our boys in blue, who are off to their best conference start in 14 years.
The team is back in action this weekend at home against Grinnell (1-3) and Knox (1-1-1). Games begin at 1 on Saturday and Sunday.