This past weekend the University of Dallas boys finally returned to their home turf to play two tough teams. On Friday the Crusaders matched up against Sewanee: University of the South from Tennessee, followed by a match on Sunday against Centre College from Kansas.
The match against Sewanee started off fairly rough for Dallas. Sewanee held the ball after the kickoff and UD seemed to have no control over the ball in the first 15 minutes of the match. When possession was finally achieved, inaccurate passes and forced balls eliminated the opportunity. Dallas finally created an opportunity and capitalized on it in the 19th minute of the first half. Junior center back Joey Killion played the ball wide to junior fullback Billy Stofer before Stofer crossed the ball into the box. After an interesting bounce over the Sewanee defender, the ball floated right in front of the keeper who, to all of our surprises, stepped away from the ball. Senior forward/midfielder and co-captain Michael Chapman then launched forward and flicked the ball into the net. Unfortunately after this goal, possession yet again favored Sewanee. Despite Sewanee’s multiple attempts, the halftime whistle blew, and Dallas walked off winning the first half.
When the second half began, Sewanee returned with ball possession and continued to attack by crossing the ball to the top of the box and flicking it towards the goal. While every flick previously attempted was saved, in the 12th minute of the second half, a flicked ball was poked into the corner. While freshman goalkeeper Casey Shanks got his hands on it, the mass of players knocked it out of his hands, and the ball knocked into the corner of the goal. With the equalizer now in play, the scoreboard was once again 0-0. After this first goal, Sewanee’s second wind certainly kicked in. They recorded 15 of their 21 shots in the second half. Accordingly, Sewanee also recorded 13 total corner kicks whereas Dallas only recorded three. Sewanee pounded Dallas’ defense until finally recording a second goal in the 72nd minute when a deflected cross was scored from outside the box.
Sewanee took the lead in the middle of the second half and withstood UD’s attempt to connect with the back of the net. The game ended 2-1 Sewanee.
After a frustrating loss on Friday, the Crusaders mentally cleansed themselves to prepare for their Sunday match against Centre, another tough team. From the beginning of the first half, it was evident this would be a tough match. A large and fast team, Dallas’ center and outside backs were continuously closing down long balls on the flanks of the field. In the eighth minute of the first half, the opening goal was scored from Centre’s Austin Hall (#12). The ball was played through the midfield up to one of their forwards and then lifted to Hall who finished the shot.
Ending the first half 0-1, the Dallas boys huddled and attempted to raise morale. Extremely quiet throughout the first half, a seemingly passionless team was in need of revitalization.
Going into the second half, the rain-battered crowd saw a completely different squad. The Crusaders, finally showing some passion, put Centre on the defensive. Many opportunities were created by playing the ball wide to freshman outside midfielder Nathan Nwaeze who sped past Centre’s defense and put the ball in for a cross.
After punishing Centre’s goal box, freshman midfielder Matthew Wise drew a foul on the outside of the goal-keeping box. Wise, taking the free kick, bent the ball around the defensive wall placed in front of him and slammed the keeper. The keep fumbled the ball, and freshman center back James Bernard scored the equalizer.
The remainder of the match was fought equally hard until Centre scored two unanswered goals. The first was a well-flicked ball which landed just in front of the second forward running through. The second came when a ball down the flank was played negative to an undefended central midfielder.
With two frustrating and unfortunate losses this weekend, the team’s conference chances now rest on dominating the rest of their matches. The team is starting to click slowly, but their fluidity is far from a star squad. With increased intensity in practice, the Crusaders aim to lift their physicality and effort on the pitch and prevent a grim ending to a hard-fought, yet unfortunate season.