The American University Eagles defeat the Navy Midshipmen 3-1 in the final regular season match of the year and the team’s senior day.
The Midshipmen came into this match as the leading offense in the Patriot League with 29 goals scored, and it showed early on. Navy notched the first goal of the game in the 14th minute of the match, but the lead didn’t last long. The Eagles quickly bounced back with a goal 45 seconds later by graduate forward Jerry Zouantcha, assisted by sophomore forward Robbie Matei and junior midfielder Jack Green.
Neither team scored again in the first half, but the Eagles took off in the second to finish out the match. After a back and forth battle to try to score, the Eagles came out on top in the 77th minute with another goal by Zouantcha. Sophomore midfielder Evan Schweickert made a run up the middle of the field before sending a pass to Zouantcha, who struck the ball into the right of the net for his second goal of the game.
Scoring two goals on senior day was special for Zouantcha.
“I’ve been with these seniors for four years, I know all their parents and I live with a lot of them,” Zouantcha said. “So to get two goals and to celebrate with them, it’s amazing.”
The Midshipmen weren’t out of the game though, and they repeatedly made aggressive pushes to try to equalize the match. The Eagles defense held firm in spite of some close calls, including a mistaken drop by freshman goalkeeper Dominic Dominguez almost inside the net. The incident was not ruled a goal, and the Navy bench reacted with venomous anger when the call went against them. The game was sealed in the 89th minute with the final Eagles goal of the regular season from Matei.
Prior to the start of the match, the Eagles honored seven senior members of the team who have now played their last season as an Eagle. Head coach Zach Samol had nothing but praise for the fourth year players.
“The seniors are everything,” Samol said. “When you think about the team in a given year, you really feel like you are only as good as your leadership and your seniors … A lot of your success each year depends on those guys.”
The Eagles will move on to the Patriot League tournament with a chance to repeat as champions. Zouantcha said the win gives the team confidence heading into the playoffs.
“I think we’re super confident and I think the confidence comes from the team playing well,” Zouantcha said. “One thing the coaches stress is performance, let’s get better every day. … The goal is always to train better, and I think that’s why we have been on such a roll; the training has been much better.”
With the win against Navy, Loyola Maryland defeating Bucknell and Holy Cross losing to Boston University, the Eagles have secured the second seed in the Patriot League tournament. They will have a bye before hosting a semi-final match on Nov. 9, match time to be announced.