Men's soccer turning it around
La Salle’s men’s soccer team has been riding a hot streak over the past two weeks and has won three games in a row. With the winning streak, the Explorers have catapulted themselves into contention for the Atlantic 10 Championship, sporting a 3-2-0 record in the conference games.
The team has been busy at McCarthy Stadium, with four home games over the past two weekends.
The homestand started on a bad note, with the team dropping a 2-1 decision to Dayton on Friday, Oct. 19. In the loss, sophomore Jim Guntle scored his first goal of the season.
The team rebounded with an overtime win against Xavier on Oct. 21. Junior Jim Davis put the Explorers ahead in the 55th minute with a header off a corner kick from junior Brian Barry for his second goal of the season. Xavier was able to tie the game in the 73rd, forcing the extra period.
With just over three minutes remaining, senior Joe Heavey took a pass from Barry inside the box and finished to give La Salle the victory. The goal was Heavey’s second of the season, and Barry’s two assists were his second and third. Head coach Pat Farrell was pleased with his team’s resiliency.
“We’ve had to overcome a lot of adversity this season…with injuries and things,” he said. “But we’ve stayed together as a team.”
The Explorers continued their winning ways, taking decisions from Duquesne and St. Bonaventure on Friday and Sunday, respectively. With rain pouring down, the Explorers had to battle through some serious weather conditions on Friday.
After falling behind 1-0 after just over two minutes, Guntle scored for the second week in a row, tying the game in the 12th minute off a pass from sophomore Ryan Tadley. Freshman Ryan Richter wone the game in the 61st, chalking up his team-leading fourth of the season. Guntle assisted on the goal, his second.
More importantly, the win brought the Explorers to the .500 mark in their A-10 games.
On Sunday, the Explorers converted a 1-0 victory over the Bonnies on Senior Day. Approp-riately enough, seniors Jeremy Ortiz and Heavey played a huge role, as Heavey assisted Ortiz’s game-winning goal in the 29th minute. The Explorers were able to hold on to improve to 3-2-0 in the conference. Farrell offered high praise to his seniors.
“These guys have been a great class, both academically and athletically,” Farrell said. “They provide quality leadership and set the tempo for the rest of the team.”
The seniors weren’t the only ones Farrell was proud of, though. Everyone on the team is contributing to the team’s success.
“There are a lot of different guys on this team, and they’re all a part of this,” Farrell said.
Needless to say, the coach was very pleased with his team’s level of play the past two weekends. The three close wins gave the Explorers four one-goal victories this season. Handling pressure well, they have played a tough pre-conference schedule of mostly away games. Farrell credits the out of conference games for their recent success in close contests.
“This league has so many quality teams, you really have to have your A-game and be prepared to handle adversity,” Farrell said. “We’ve played a lot of tough games, and now we’re getting some real results; we’re rallying.”
That’s good news for La Salle. With just four games remaining, every game matters. Farrell described every game as “critical,” Stopping off for a weekend in New England, the team will look to carry momentum into Friday’s game at Massachusetts, and Sunday’s at Rhode Island.
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