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Men’s Soccer Struggles Through Season, Reverses To Make CAC Playoffs

After a hard fight this season against some of the top college teams in the country, the men’s soccer team managed to turn around a losing season just in time to make the Capital Athletic Conference playoffs, losing 1-0 in their first round but nonetheless playing a intense game to remember.

The Seahawks began their Fall 2010 season roughly, losing their first three matches against Neumann College on Sept. 1, Elizabethtown College on Sept. 4, and the State University of New York Genesco on Sept. 5. All three matches were shut-outs against the College, and while none were conference matches, they still set up the athletes for a tough rest-of-season.

“We aren’t really doing as well as we thought,” said Coach Herb Gainey, now in his ninth season with the men’s soccer team. “But the team has turned 180 [degrees] from last year, and I’m proud that they haven’t bailed out.”

The team stepped up its performance the following week, matching Greensboro College 1-1 after an overtime match Sept. 11 and winning 2-1 during a home game against Methodist University the following day. First-year midfielder Brian Payne made an appearance during the first half, flicking a loose ball into the Monarchs’ goal to give the Seahawks the first point of the game.

“The freshman players are good, and talented,” said Gainey. “Their energy helps in training and in games.”

While losing the Seahawk Classic on Sept. 15 to the nationally-ranked Swarthmore College 3-1 despite a point-for-point first half, the team again turned its luck around on Sept. 18 with a 3-2 overtime victory against Stevenson University, giving the Seahawks their first conference game of the season.

“This team is the closest group of guys I have ever been a part of,” said junior forward Ted Scharfenberg. “We fight every time we are on the field and never give up.”

Unfortunately, men’s soccer took another losing streak over the two weeks following the Stevenson game, losing 2-0 against the University of Mary Washington on Sept. 22, 3-0 to York College on Sept. 25, and 3-0 against Salisbury University Oct. 2 in another series of shut-outs to bring the team to a 1-3 CAC spread.

While the team came back with a 2-1 victory over Shenandoah University Oct. 6, it faced a net loss after two shut-out defeats by Oct. 11 against Richard Stockton College and Johns Hopkins University.

The Seahawks took a conference win and draw at home against Hood College and Frostburg State University, respectively, but suffered three consecutive losses at the hands of Marymount, Christopher Newport, and Catholic Universities, bringing their CAC spread to 2-4-1 by Oct. 26.

For the men’s team, this meant that the Seahawks would have to win their last match of the official season, against Wesley College, to make it to the playoffs.
“Tomorrow’s game against Wesley will determine if we’re in or out [of the playoffs],” said Gainey in an interview on Oct. 27.

In a surge of strength and teamwork, the Seahawks managed to score the first goal within the first two minutes of play, as senior midfielder George Gusack placed the ball perfectly for senior midfielder Keith Hines’ chip-in. By the end of play, the team won 2-0 over the Wolverines, earning its place as the fifth seed team for the playoffs after a Senior Day Oct. 28 victory.

While making it to the playoff game against Mary Washington on Oct. 31, the Seahawks took a heartbreaking 1-0 loss against the Eagles after a scoreless first-half against the fourth seed school.
“It was an intense game,” said junior midfielder Matt Grady after the match.

“While performance-wise we didn’t improve this season, in terms of teamwork and heart we really did.”

The Seahawks will return to the field next fall with the start of a new season. While the season could potentially be just as difficult with the loss of 11 seniors, the abilities of the incoming athletes will hopefully show the promise that the men’s team will need in 2011.

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