Men’s soccer off to best start ever

Tim Ruberton

The men’s soccer team completed a businesslike weekend sweep at home last weekend over Grinnell and Knox. The series got off to a rough start as senior Elliot Spruell collided with Grinnell goalie Samuel Lancaster and suffered an ankle sprain barely one minute into the Grinnell match. Spruell, though up and about, may not feel up to full strength for a few weeks. His substitute, sophomore Joe Sluhoski, avenged his elder teammate with a goal in the 13th minute set up by clever ball play from sophomore Ryan Pikna and freshman Tristan Lipe. Lancaster kept his team in it with several strong saves in the first half, notably against freshman Jimmy Kloppmann and junior Klas Berghede, leaving Sluhoski’s goal as the lone tally of the first half.
Berghede would not be denied in the second half, however, taking Lipe’s deceptive pass toward the left post and converting a pretty 75th-minute goal. Lancaster appeared to be fooled by the pass, perhaps thinking it to be a shot headed wide, but the real Viking nailed it home. Berghede’s goal wound up being critical as Grinnell, though unable to mount much sustained pressure at any point in the game, got a quick strike header from Andrew Walsh less than three minutes after the Berghede score. Lawrence keeper Matt Wolin, who made four saves in the game, had no chance at stopping Walsh’s point-blank beanball. Freshman Nick Dufficy came within inches of scoring the Vikings’ third goal of the match, but his shot bounced off the inside of the left post – no matter, as LU won the day 2-1.
Against Knox, things proceeded much the same as they did against Grinnell. Once again, Sluhoski and Berghede handled offensive matters. Sluhoski notched his third score of the season in the third minute, taking an assist from junior Sean Breitzman and blasting a left-footed shot past Knox keeper Cary Archer. Lawrence survived a serious scare 10 minutes later when a shot off a Knox corner hit the underside of Wolin’s crossbar, bounded straight down onto the goal line, and somehow made its way clear without ever having crossed the line entirely. Throughout the first half, the Vikings thwarted a few of their own scoring chances as they were flagged for a ridiculous number of offside violations behind the trapping Knox defenders, turning the ball over a total of 12 times in such fashion throughout the game. The Vikes did, however, make it 2-0 in the 39th minute when Berghede took a pass from sophomore Doug McEneaney and decided to stop worrying about passing it forward, instead ducking a few Knox defenders to earn himself a clear shot at goal and hitting his mark. This would remain the last goal of the game, cementing Lawrence’s weekend sweep.
LU is off to their best conference start ever at 4-0. They take this undefeated record into the most important stretch of the regular season. Carroll and St. Norbert, both also undefeated in conference, come to town over the next two weekends. The Carroll match is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday the 8th.