Eagles advance to Patriot League championship for the second season in a row

A high scoring back-and-forth game ends with an Eagles victory

Eagles advance to Patriot League championship for the second season in a row
#23 Ethan Boyle celebrating a goal in the Patriot League semifinal

The American University men’s soccer team sunk the Navy Midshipmen 4-2 to push on to the Patriot League championship game on Tuesday.

The match did not have a dull moment and each team pushed back and forth in their attempts to seal the win. Four goals were scored in the first half alone, three for AU and one penalty kick for Navy. Scoring came from all over for the Eagles. Junior midfielder Mattias Cooper was the common denominator on three of the four goals as he proved to be an assisting machine off the bench.

The Eagles came out fast for the first goal with senior forward David Coly scoring off an assist by sophomore midfielder Ethan Boyle in the 11th minute. AU scored another goal in the 36th minute with an exceptional header and first career goal from junior forward Max Wright. Cooper sent a wide pass to sophomore defender Nevin Baer who followed it up with a deft cross into the box to find Wright’s head. 

Navy got back into the game with a penalty kick in the 42nd minute from sophomore David Jackson, but the Eagles weren’t done battering the Midshipmen. The final goal of the first half was a resounding strike into the top right of the goal from sophomore midfielder Evan Schweickert for his first career goal, assisted again by Cooper.

“We’ve shared a lot of goals this year through a lot of guys, so it isn’t too surprising,” said head coach Zach Samol on the two first career goals. “Max has been a bit unlucky with some of his other chances to score and so for him to get one today was pretty special, it was a great header too. Then Scheickert, you know he’ll get a goal at some point and today happened to be the one.”

The second half was a battle as the Midshipmen aggressively tried to claw their way out of the deficit. Navy tightened the score in the 59th minute with an excellent corner into the box to find the head of senior Jacob Williams to put the game within drawing distance. 

The Eagles had no interest in allowing Navy back into the game, and Boyle sealed the game with a goal in the 74th minute, assisted by Cooper. Cooper hit a short pass in front of Boyle who slid the ball to the far post for the final goal of the game. Navy continued to put pressure on the Eagles, but the AU defense held strong.

The Eagles are a victory away from repeating as Patriot League champions and punching their ticket to the NCAA tournament. The challenge has been something the team has embraced, according to senior defender Nicolas Blassou.

“We just feel like the energy is really high,” Blassou said. “When you win a championship the next season is really tough, cause you have a target on your back. I think we have done a good job to embrace that challenge and here we are again competing for a championship.”

The Eagles will now face the first seeded Loyola Greyhounds at Loyola in a titanic battle for the Patriot League championship this Saturday at noon ET.

lclarke@theeagleonline.com 

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