by Sean Begin
Heading into Saturday afternoon’s game against Navy, Central Connecticut men’s soccer head coach Shaun Green felt his team had an edge in the wet and soggy conditions.
“We felt the rain was an advantage to us because we’re a high pressure team,” said Greene. “Whenever you press teams in poor conditions you’re going to force mistakes.”
Early in the game those mistakes came from Navy, with an early Central corner kick and several deep drives into the Navy defensive end. But a 13 minute lightning delay just 11 minutes into the game allowed Navy to recover.
In the 16th minute, Navy’s Matt Saunders capitalized when a Central defender slid in the wet grass, allowing a clean look at the goal from the top of the box. Saunders buried the ball into the net for his first goal of the season.
Navy scored again with exactly 27 minutes gone in the half. Jamie Dubyoski scored his third goal of the season on a shot to the lower left of the net.
Central responded with a goal of their own, from senior defenseman Keir Hannity, who beat Navy goalkeeper Mac Burke to the left from the top of the box. Senior midfielder Stephen Walmsley had the assist.
“We want to create more opportunities, and our style of play is developing in that way,” said Green of his team’s offensive attack. The goal ensured Central would avoid being shutout for the first time this season.
“We’ve played five games this season, including two scrimmages, and not one team has shut us out,” said Green. “We’re very creative up front and I think we will always create enough [chances] every game to score a goal every week.”
Senior goalkeeper Josef Abele and the Blue Devil defense buckled down against the Navy attack for the rest of the first half and most of the second, managing to come up with several key saves to keep Central close.
In the 85th minute, Navy broke through once more, when Daniel Camuti scored from the top of the box to Abele’s left on a feed from Dubyoski.
“Well, you’re never doing well if you’re conceding three goals,” said Greene. “However, with that said, our defensive shape was good, our attitude was good, it was an improvement over Penn last week.”
Penn and Navy have proven to be good tests of the Blue Devils this season. Both were the champions in their respective conferences last season. Navy also reached the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament and came into the game against Central having already beaten #10 Maryland earlier in the season.
“I told our guys, these games are never wasted. We schedule the toughest teams we can find,” said Greene. “The big picture for us are the NECs. We won the [regular season] championship two of the last three years. A big part of that is because we have a really tough, out-of-conference schedule.”
Central will hit the road for their next three games against UMass-Lowell, Yale and Army before returning home to New Britain for a 1 p.m. game against Vermont on Sept. 28.