By Jimmy Cassidy
On their final home game of the 2015 season, the men’s soccer team at Catholic University earned an important victory over conference opponent Susquehanna University on Saturday, October 24th. The team celebrated the senior seasons of Josh Barrett, Nico Bartolomeo, Connor Keale, Alex Laprade, Ben Sykes, and Tyler Zimmerman before the contest kicked off on their final regular season game at CUA Soccer Field. In front of a large homecoming weekend crowd, the Class of 2016 made their presence felt on the field in a big way en route to a 3-2 win over the Crusaders. The win moves Catholic’s overall record to 6-9-1 and their Landmark Conference record to 3-3-1.
After hugging his parents in his senior day ceremony, defender Ben Sykes found himself hugging his teammates after a goal just 9 minutes into the game. Sophomore Nick Joesten took a shot on goal that could not be cleared out of the box, and Sykes took the opportunity to blast the ball into the top right corner of the net to put Catholic on top early.
“Scoring on senior day was really special. I had actually never scored at home before so putting one in the net on that field was amazing,” Sykes said after the match.
Both teams had chances in the remainder of the first 45 minutes, and Susquehanna threatened to equalize a couple of times. Goalkeeper Zachary Tashjy faced eight shots in the first half on his way to his fifth win of the 2015 fall campaign. Only the goal separated the evenly matched teams as the Cardinals’ lead remained 1-0 at the end of the first half.
In the 51st minute of the game, Catholic was awarded a corner kick. Corner specialist Zimmerman delivered a fantastic cross into the box that found the head of Barrett. The 6’2 defender rose above the defense to finish the goal with his header. The senior duo were responsible for doubling CUA’s lead to 2-0.
On the seniors’ impact this season, Sykes commented “It’s a great group of guys this year. We’ve played in 3 NCAA Tournament games, and the four years of dedication to the team reflects well to the younger guys.”
In the 67th minute, a counter attack allowed a breakaway led by Joesten. He dribbled down the pitch and sent a cross on the ground to the left side of the goal. The pass was received by fellow sophomore Heston Priestly, who got a foot to the ball just before the goalkeeper tried to fall on it. His effort was successful, and Catholic’s lead extended to a comfortable 3-0 mark. The effort from Susquehanna did not subside, however, as the Crusaders managed to score two goals in the last five minutes of the contest. It was too little and too late, though, as 90 minutes were up, and the Cardinals survived the scare for a 3-2 victory.
The team sits in a tie for the 4th and final spot in the Landmark Conference playoffs currently. With a win in their next game and a bit of help from other teams in the conference, the Cardinals will be able to compete for the conference championship. They will play at Juniata tomorrow, October 31st, at 1 PM.
“We do have a great chance at making the playoffs; the guys on the team are positive and determined for a good result this weekend,” Sykes said. “Juniata is a touch opponent to play on the road, so we need to finish our chances in front of goal.”