CORDERO ESTRAMERA, Special to The Denisonian — There’s much more to Denison soccer games than goal-scoring.
Over the last four years, this Big Red team has experienced tremendous growth both on and off the field. Their competition has been stiff and, on any given night, incredible college soccer is being played. The team expectations are great and they are committed. Matt Rush ‘20 spoke to their year-long commitment:
“Our goal is to win the NCAC and qualify for the NCAA tournament. That’s ambitious, but we are committed to working to achieve this goal. Kenyon and Ohio Wesleyan are competitive teams on the national level, but, there is more parity than ever before in the NCAC and we think we have the team this year to achieve great things.”
The team has shown they’re not only motivated, but can play at a really high collegiate level by holding #4 John Carrol to one goal and playing #13 Capital University to a scoreless draw. Denison soccer seems to elevate their game to the level of their opponents. This held true in Saturday’s road matchup at Mount Union, a team who entered the game with an impressive record of 5-0-1.
For the first 45 minutes of play, the game remained scoreless. The Big Red had a 3-2 shot advantage and the momentum going into the second half.
However, in the 59th minute, the Purple Raiders broke the ice. A goal scored by MTU’s Ryland Wickle broke the scoreless tie.
Mount Union built upon their go-ahead goal with a rapid string of 5 shots between the 62nd and 67th minute. However, the Big Red’s defense remained strong and goalkeeper, Dylan Brown ‘21 kept the Purple Raiders from adding to their lead.
Matt Rush also praised his team’s defense, “ Our greatest strength is our defense, with a great keeper, junior Dylan Brown and a strong backline.” Junior Dylan Brown recorded a pivotal save in the 63rd minute, keeping the game within reach for the Big Red.
In the 82nd minute, defender, Jackson Briggs ‘23 had a shot on goal that was saved by Mount Union goalkeeper Zach Hlas. This scoring opportunity marked the end of the Big Red’s chances on the day.
After 90 minutes, Denison was out-shot 7-14 (3-4 shots on goal). The Big Red were unable to connect on their opportunities against a rock-solid Mount Union team.
The final score ended 1-0 in favor of the Purple Raiders. Despite this, there’s something to be said about the comradery of this team.
Matt Rush reiterates how unique this year’s group of guys are while speaking to the bond they have formed already.
“The guys on the team have an incredible bond. We come from everywhere — Boston to Florida to Chicago to Colorado, and this year, Brazil,” said Rush.
It’s something that definitely warrants attention. Though the loss drops the Big Red to 3-3-1 on the year, this team has proven already that they will not back down against anyone.You can support the men’s soccer team during Big Red Weekend when they host Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday, September 28 at 7 p.m.