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Soccer v. Army

Men’s soccer defeats Army on Senior Day, clinching playoff spot

Eagles execute comfortable win over the Black Knights

The American University men’s soccer team (6-5-4) dominated the Army West Point Black Knights (3-9-4) in a 3-0 Senior Day victory on Oct. 28. 

Before the game, the team celebrated its six seniors: defender Mike Bleeker, defender Nevin Baer, midfielder Evan Schweickert, midfielder Ethan Boyle, forward Robbie Matei and goalkeeper Lorenzo Gordon.

Students, friends and families packed Reeves Field to honor the seniors and support the Eagles in their last home game of the season. The game was especially important as the team sought to secure a spot in the Patriot League playoffs. 

Army opened the possession with kickoff, followed by a fast-paced press from American. From the start, the Eagles executed quick one-touch passes, leading to strong spells of possession. Eager to get the ball forward, they earned an early corner kick in the second minute. 

The first quarter of the game was not dominated by either side, as both teams held a fair share of possession and pressured each other’s defensive lines. 

The Eagles patiently connected swift passes through their backline, looking to build out of the back. They used the broad width of the field to their advantage, pushing sophomore wing-back Jonah Fogel and junior wing-back Taku Takahashi to the touchline to receive the ball. The last ball in the final third seemed to let American down, though, as they struggled to connect with their forwards. Starting sophomore goalkeeper Matthew Tibbetts yelled instructions at his teammates to relax on the ball and pass to each other’s feet, rather than directing unsuccessful aerial balls over the Black Knights backline.

The Eagles found their breakthrough goal in the 20th minute, when Boyle settled a cross to assist junior forward Mustapha Sowe, who comfortably slotted the ball into the bottom left corner. American quickly followed up with their second goal just two minutes later, punishing Army for a giveaway in their defensive end. Boyle slid to push the ball into the back of the net, adding his name to the scoresheet on his senior day — this time, for a goal. 

The Eagles comfortably maintained possession for the rest of the half, completely crushing any momentum that the Black Knights had. The little activity there was in American’s defensive third was quickly shut down, and the Eagles went into halftime with a two goal lead. 

The second half followed suit, with the Eagles playing in a composed, possession-oriented manner. The frustrated Black Knights resorted to playing direct through balls towards the left side of the field, which often ran out of bounds. Army only managed one shot on goal the entire half.

“We were more mature, as a team, to handle what Army was trying to do,” head coach Zach Samol said. “We managed the game better.” 

American executed their third and final blow in the 61st minute, with a goal from junior midfielder Zemi Rodriguez. They were able to see out the rest of the game with ease. 

“We played well, we handled the game well overall, and we scored big goals,” said Samol. 

The victory — the Eagles’ third in a row — pushed them to fourth in Patriot League standings, clinching them a spot in the playoffs. 

“This means a lot … we deserve to be in the playoffs,” said Boyle, whose goal and assist earned him Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week.

The Eagles, despite dropping to sixth place with a loss to Loyola Maryland, head to the Patriot League Tournament next to compete against the Lafayette Leopards on Nov. 4 in Easton, Pennsylvania.

This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Olivia Citarella.

Section 202 host Gabrielle and friends go over some sports that aren’t in the sports media spotlight often, and review some sports based on their difficulty to play. 

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