The University of Dallas men’s soccer team was pushed to its physical limits this past weekend as it had two overtime games in as many days.
At home on Friday, against the Bruins of George Fox University, the Crusaders got on the board early as freshman forward Nat Kajiwara found the back of the net five minutes and forty-two seconds into his collegiate career. He was assisted on the goal by fellow freshman Tomas De Petris. .
Throughout the first half, the Crusaders had many opportunities (11 shots) to extend their lead, but were not able to convert on any of these attempts for the remainder of the half.
George Fox came out aggressive in the second half and outshot the Crusaders (14-9) in the period. It paid off for them as they were able to equalize the score in the 52nd minute.
The final minutes of the second half were hotly contested as both teams came close to scoring but neither were able to finish.
Freshman goalkeeper Sean Carlin was able to bounce back from the earlier goal allowed with some key saves later in the half.
As the game went into overtime, the fatigue from both teams became apparent. It was now a matter of which team could show the most grit playing under the hot Texas sun. Luckily for the Crusaders, Kajiwara was able to come up with the golden goal five minutes into the extended period.
The Crusaders were victorious thanks to their toughness and the major contribution of the freshman. Senior midfielder A.J. Zaugg attributed the victory to the team’s character.
“We showed composure and perseverance to grind out a win.”
The next day, the Crusaders were back at it as they traveled to Howard Payne University to play the Yellow Jackets.
Again, the Crusaders opened the scoring thanks to a free kick goal by De Petris.
Both teams had about even shot attempts in the first half. In the second half, the Crusaders outshot the Yellow Jackets 7-3. However, it was Howard Payne that found the back of the net in the 61st minute.
As neither team scored after that, for the second consecutive day, the Crusaders went to overtime.
The Crusaders appeared to have the edge in the first overtime and early in the second. Unfortunately the Yellow Jackets were able to rattle off the final 3 shots of the game, the last of which found the back of the net, handing the Crusaders the double overtime loss.
“We had a lapse in mental focus and tracking back that led to the two goals,” said senior defender Jake Schnell.
The Crusaders may not have been able to keep their focus all the way through the game, as the effects of overtime games in back to back days took its toll, but there were several positives to take away from the weekend that included lots of scoring opportunities and major contributions by young players. They will look to take these positives into next weekend for their conference opener against Colorado College.