By Kaitlyn Beauregard
With the regular season winding down, the Union Men’s Soccer team went into a crucial weekend with an 8-5-1 record. The men’s soccer team hosted two Liberty League rivals this weekend, facing RPI on Saturday afternoon and Vassar College on Sunday. The Dutchmen and the RPI Engineers were forced into overtime on Saturday, and even though both teams played aggressively, neither was able to score the game-winning goal, leaving the game in a 1-1 tie. The Dutchmen came out strong on Sunday and dominated the game early. Although they were unable to maintain control for the duration of the game, Union did manage to scrape out a 5-4 win over Vassar, giving the Dutchmen a 9-5-2 overall record and securing a trip to the league playoffs.
Saturday’s game against RPI was an aggressively played match from the start. Both teams had several opportunities to score early, but the Dutchmen and the Engineers remained gridlocked at 0-0 for the duration of the first half. Union’s defense responded well to the early pressure applied by RPI, as junior goalkeeper Adam Margulies made four saves in the first half to keep the game scoreless.
The Engineers struck first in the second half when, at 66:31, RPI’s Blake Adams drew a penalty kick in the box. Adams’s initial shot was blocked by Margulies, but he was able to put in the rebound to give RPI a 1-0 lead.
After relinquishing the first goal, the Dutchmen remained determined. This focus paid off with just over ten minutes left in the game, when junior forward Marc Zeyak scored to even the score at one.
Although the game continued into overtime, neither Union nor RPI was able to break the tie, and the game ended with the score locked at one. Head Coach Jeff Guinn was satisfied with the outcome of the game saying, “It would’ve been great to score,” but added that “in overtime, you sometimes want to throw caution to the winds, but we have to bear in mind that RPI is behind us in the standings, and we can live with a tie.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s game, Coach Guinn commented on the talent of this year’s Liberty League, asserting “there is not a game in this league where anybody can guess who’s going to win. It’s very competitive and we need to win one of our next two games to guarantee a spot in the playoffs.”
Fortunately for Union, the Dutchmen managed to obtain that win on Sunday over the Brewers. Union came out strong as they scored three goals in the first half, including two by Zeyak and one by junior forward Craig Santangelo, giving Union a quick 3-0 lead. Vassar, however, refused to be counted out and controlled the end of the first half, and finally managed to score with under two minutes remaining in the half.
In the second half, Zeyak quickly gave Union back some momentum, scoring his third goal of the game and giving the Dutchmen a 4-1 lead. Although Union seemed to have a good handle on the game, it was far from over as the second half turned from what seemed to be a sure victory into a nail-biter.
The Brewers scored twice in a row making the score 4-3 and putting the two teams a single goal apart with just over three minutes left to play. But, Santangelo scored his second goal of the game on a penalty kick, giving Union some breathing room. The Brewers attempted a late game comeback, scoring with mere seconds left to play, but the Dutchmen held on for the win and guaranteed themselves a trip to the playoffs.
Coach Guinn was pleased with the early performance from his team, but was not thrilled with the way they played after the initial brilliance. He said, “We need to not assume that we’ve won a game forty minutes into a game.” Guinn is, however, excited about the upcoming postseason, saying, “We’ll play either St. Lawrence or Hamilton—we’ve lost in overtime to St. Lawrence twice now, and we’ve won in overtime against Hamilton, so we’re very close to both. I think it will be a great game.”
The Dutchmen will travel to Skidmore on Saturday to close out the regular season.