The weather may be getting chillier, but fourth-year forward Alex Besl’s competitive spirit brought the heat this weekend.
The Case Western Reserve University men’s soccer team dominated their opponents last week, blowing out both Heidelberg University 4-0 and Adrian University 8-1. Both games were played at DiSanto Field.
The Spartans started the game against Heidelberg with a bang when a long throw-in found second-year midfielder Garrett Winter at the thirty yard line. Taking the opponent by surprise, Winter rapidly dribbled down the right side and crossed to third-year forward Zachary Senft, who made a shot in the bottom right corner of goal within the first 33 seconds of the game. The Spartans continued their offensive pressure and created multiple corner kick opportunities for shots, but were never able to put the ball in the net. However, the Spartans were able to draw a foul in the box, which allowed Winter to score his first goal of the game. Riding the momentum of his first goal, Winter received another pass near the left side of the goal box, deftly side-stepped right of the defender and made a shot in the top right corner of the goal.
With three goals in the first ten minutes of the game, the pressure was on for Heidelberg. Unbothered by the opposing defense, the Spartans remained relentless, taking every open shot, outshooting Heidelberg 19-8 and 9-3 in shots on goal. Besl found himself driving the ball down the left side with no defender in sight and crossed with his left foot, connecting with the 6-feett-6-inch second-year forward Seldon Magruder for the final goal of the game.
“[Against Heidelberg] we moved it around in the backline and passed to the wing players to exert pressure…[aftering going up 4-0] we were settled in the game,” Besl said.
Against Adrian, the Spartans again applied pressure early on in the game and maintained control of the ball. However, the team started a bit slow, with missed opportunities from corner kicks and a solid defense by Adrian. Eventually the offensive pressure got through the Adrian defense. Besl managed to take the ball away from the goalie and tap it in for the first goal of many in the game. A minute after, third-year midfielder Marques Manta dropped the ball to Senft, who would score soon after. Adrian responded with a goal of their own at the 26th minute.
Besl said, “We didn’t play that well in the first half, but we turned it up and scored five goals in the first fifteen minutes of the second [half].”
The Spartans started the second half blazing. Manta scored his first goal of the season off a lofty pass, extending the lead 3-1. The team continued to pressure the defense, with Senft shooting from the left of the goalbox, dropping the goalie and leaving Besl open for the clean up goal. Two minutes later, the Spartans juggled the ball around with aerial passes. Manta received the ball at the right side of the goal box, faked left, faked the shot and delivered a beautiful pass to second-year midfielder Connor Weber at the top of the twenty yard line for the easy shot, stunning the opposing goalkeeper.
If that wasn’t enough, Besl went all the way to the goal with two defenders on him to finish his hat trick. Right after the kickoff of Besl’s third goal, first-year midfielder Peter Dernelle intercepted the pass meant for the opposing forward, spun left to get open and found Magruder for a long 30 yard header. To add the icing on the cake, first-year forward Jacob Hall completed a through pass with fourth-year midfielder Josh Wargo to set up second-year forward Maxmillian Klemm for the final goal of the game, defeating the Bulldogs up 8-1.
Besl commented after the game that while he was impressed with the play of the first-year players, he relished his first career hat trick.
On maintaining the same level of play in future matches, Besl commented that “[The team] has the same mindset and intensity heading into a game as important as a conference or [University Athletic Association] rival match…[when we play away] I sprinkle a bit of DiSanto’s turf so we can bring a bit of home with us.”
The Spartans beat No. 7 Kenyon College 3-0 on Wednesday Sept. 26. They will look to continue their winning streak Sept. 29 at Brandeis University.