The University of Dallas men’s soccer team had yet another successful weekend, as they were able to notch two more conference victories and secure the number two seed in the conference tournament, giving them a first round bye.
Neither was an easy win, however, as the Crusaders almost blew multi-goal leads in both games.
The Crusaders got off to a hot start on Friday against Texas Lutheran, scoring in the sixth minute of the game.
Junior forward Andrew Ciancone was responsible for this first strike, which came on an assist from fellow forward Nat Kajiwara. It was only fourteen minutes later that Ciancone found the back of the net again, this time on an assist from sophomore forward Hunter Haugland.
Haugland was able to add a goal of his own in the 32nd minute. This one came on an assist from sophomore forward Chima Ogueri.
With a 3-0 lead and a 9-3 shot advantage heading into the half, it appeared that the Crusaders would run away with this one.
However, in the second half the visiting Bulldogs showed that they were not going to go down without a fight. TLU played a much more aggressive style in the second half, and were able to break the shutout in the 60th minute of the match.
Again, in the 89th minute, TLU found the back of the net to cut the deficit to only one goal.
Fortunately for the Crusaders, they were able to hold on to this lead for the final 90 seconds.
Freshman goalkeeper Sean Carlin finished with four saves on the afternoon.
Senior defender Jake Schnell attributed the tale of two halves to a disparity of intensity in the two different periods.
“We came out very fast and clinical in the first half,” Schnell said. “Our intensity was down in the second half, and we gave too much space defensively.”
Sunday’s matchup with Southwestern started off in similar fashion.
Again, the Crusaders came out with intensity to start off the match. Eight minutes in, Kajiwara started off the scoring, netting a goal that came on an assist from fellow freshman Chase Reynolds. That was the only score of the half, and the Crusaders finished the period with a 10-2 advantage in goals.
In the 58th minute, freshman midfielder Thomas DePetris scored his third goal of the season, giving UD a bit of a cushion.
This was short-lived, however, as just two minutes later Southwestern scored to cut the lead in half and leave the score 2-1.
The Pirates played very aggressively in the second half and had several opportunities to equalize, but the Crusader defense was able to hold strong and keep them off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.
Senior Joseph Quiray saw several positives in the team’s performance on Sunday, but did accept that the team needs to clean up its second half play.
“We played with high energy today, and did not allow them to get inside our heads with all the fouls they committed,” Quiray said. “We’ve lost our organization in the second half of both games this past weekend, so we need to work on that to have a more complete performance.”
The Crusaders have their regular season finale against Colorado College this coming Friday at 4 p.m. on Crusader Field. This will also serve as the team’s Senior Day. The following weekend will be the SCAC tournament, which UD will host.