Men’s soccer uses second half surge to power past Bucknell, 3-0
The Eagles earn another conference victory after defeating the Bison with three second half goals.
Fueled by a half time talk from head coach Todd West, AU pulled past Bucknell University on Saturday afternoon, scoring three goals in twelve minutes to earn another conference victory. The Eagles started slow, showing signs of the offensively stymied team who has scored only two goals in the last three games.
“I was very disappointed with the team in the first half, and obviously we came out and responded in the second half.” West said.
The Eagles (10-4-2, 3-2-1 PL) managed six shots in the first 20 minutes of the game but none beat Bucknell senior goalkeeper Clarke Fox. AU’s offense shut down for the rest of the half, stalling in the midfield and ineffective on the counter attack.
The Bison (5-6-3, 1-3-2 PL) prevented long passes and breakaways by staying close to Eagle midfielders and forwards. Both sides struggled to hold on to the ball for long, often losing possession in the midfield. The Eagles and the Bison battled in the air for possession of the ball off of throw-ins as players repeatedly kicked the the ball out of bounds. Neither side successfully organized an attack because of the erratic movement of the ball, and when the halftime whistle blew, the score was tied at 0-0.
In the second half, AU emerged reenergized and refocused, playing like a different team. From the beginning of the half, the Eagles asserted themselves on the pitch and broke through the midfield reaching deep into the Bison’s territory. Junior forward Joe Iraola zipped past defenders, moving the ball from one side of the pitch to the other.
At 53:00, junior midfielder Dale Ludwig and Fox collided hard near the goal. Ludwig, who has suffered from a shoulder injury throughout his career, was subbed out of the game to receive a shoulder wrap.
Seconds later, after a failed corner kick, sophomore forward Joel Hart attempted to block a punt ball from Fox but was not called for an interference foul. After extensive protest from the Bucknell bench, the refs stopped the game and reversed the no call, penalizing Hart for interference.
The Eagles continued to pressure the Bison and finally broke the tie nearly 20 minutes into the half. Senior defenseman Jordan Manley threw the the ball in to Ludwig, but AU lost possession 15 yards from the goal. However, as a Bison defender attempted lazy back pass to the goalie, Hart intercepted the ball and drove it passed a diving Fox.
AU continued to pressure Bucknell with their their speed and long passes. At 73:03, sophomore forward Nick Sifrin scored his third goal of the season with the assist by Ludwig.
“We wanna press, we’re gonna play until the game is over. So 2-0, 3-0, we’re still gonna play our game,” West said.
Senior midfielder Liam Robley scored the third goal of the game two minutes later. Robley’s free kick strike gave Fox no chance to react.
The Eagles finished the game with 21 shots, 14 of which were on goal. AU also held Bucknell to only four shots throughout the game. The Bison rarely tested senior goalkeeper Dylan Hobert who, collected two saves, all in the first half, and earned his eighth shutout of the season.
“I owe a lot to the defense in front of me, to be honest,” Hobert said.
Starters Robley and Hart both sustained minor leg injuries during the game due to physical play.
“Liam took a bad knock, and Joel took a bad knock, and the trainer is looking at them now, and hopefully they will be ready for Navy,” West said.
With only three games before the Patriot League Tournament, every game matters for the Eagles as they attempt to move up in the standings. AU will face off against fourth place United States Naval Academy, Wed Oct. 28 at Reeves Field.