Geneseo men’s soccer improved to a 3-0 record with a win over Clarkson, led once again by senior forward Bryan Wager.
The team took on their challenger from the Liberty League and proved the strength of the SUNYAC with an imposing win over the Golden Knights. The win kept the Knights atop the SUNYAC standings, along with Buffalo State and SUNY Oneonta. This is the first time men’s soccer is starting the season with a 3-0 record since 2015 and it certainly looks to be a promising season for the Knights.
The teams appeared evenly matched at the beginning of the game, but in the 16th minute the game tipped in Geneseo’s favor due to a costly Clarkson penalty.
Penalties were abundant in a physical game for both teams; there were a combined 21 penalties and 12 of those were committed by Geneseo. The penalty drawn by Geneseo in the attacking half lead to a free-kick from junior midfielder Marco LaRocca.
The booming free-kick was headed toward the net by senior back Caleb Murthy, then redirected past the goalie by senior forward Bryan Wager in a great display of teamwork and coordination.
Freshman midfielder Wade Thompson had a great chance at a goal later in the game which would have put the team up big on Clarkson, but a great save by the Golden Knight’s goalie made what was likely a goal a miss for the Knights.
For Geneseo, freshman keeper Will Price had an outstanding game including a big save on Clarkson’s only scoring chance, which came right after the goal from Wager. Geneseo never relinquished the lead after their early goal and put together their third straight stellar performance.
After his impressive performance, Wager was asked what it took to beat Clarkson. “Going into the Clarkson game, we wanted to come out with a lot of energy,” he said. “We started our last game a little flat, so we made sure that didn’t happen again.”
Wager also commented on his individual performance in the win against Clarkson, deflecting credit for the win. “Of course it feels great scoring a goal in front of the crowd, but that was a team win,” he said. “We protected a one-goal lead for 80 minutes which is a far greater task than just scoring.”
Head coach Mark Howlett was impressed with the team, much like Wager. “I was very impressed with our team’s ability to compete and make it very difficult for Clarkson to play their game,” Howlett said. “We looked very comfortable from the start and kept Clarkson in their own half, unable to break us down to create quality opportunities. It’s a great sign when you only give your opponent one shot on goal.”
The team still has a lot of work to do, according to coach Howlett. “We need to continue to work on our shape, and everybody’s roles and responsibilities within that,” he said. “Once we get more comfortable defensively, we need to be able to express ourselves more when we have the ball.”
The team did put up an admirable win over Clarkson, but Howlett is correct that the team needs to improve their chemistry in order to become more comfortable both offensively and defensively.
The Knights have a total of 13 freshmen this year and look to be doing well, assuming they’ll continue to build on their trust and chemistry throughout the roster.