Last Saturday the Prairie Fire (3-14-0, 0-8-0) took on the Buccaneers of Beloit College (8-3-4, 3-2-2). The Prairie Fire took control of the game from the start, and freshman Michael Gasparro scored his second goal of the year in the 11th minute.
However, Beloit just refused to fold as Jackson Wilkins, Beloit’s leading goal scorer, tied the game 1-1 just 10 minutes later. Beloit was able to keep the momentum going and netted another goal in the 34th minute.
“I thought we came out, we were moving well, making great decisions. Michael got us on the board first. I think we got a little complacent after the goal, and we quit playing for a few minutes. We found ourselves down 2-1, and we just couldn’t rebound,” said Coach Jeff Bernhardt.
Both the Fire and the Bucs came out of the half unable to score. Both teams became frustrated and play became more physical. Three players received a yellow card in the second half.
However, 21 minutes into the half, the Buccaneers unleashed a broadside attack of three goals in a 12-minute span to increase their lead to 5-1.
But the Knox ship was not sunk and kept on fighting. Senior Jared Jaggers scored his 5th goal of the season to make the score 5-2 in the 88th minute. But it was too little too late, and the Prairie Fire fell 5-2.
Although the Prairie Fire got off 10 shots — a decent offensive output — the Bucs had 29 total shots of their own. Beloit also had eight corner kicks, compared with just one for the Prairie Fire.
Senior keeper Max Miller notched 12 saves in the losing effort.
When asked about the contributions of Gasparro and Justin Dingle, Bernhardt replied, “Both JD and Michael have had a great season for us. They have both adjusted to the speed of the college game well, and I can see both of them having a major impact on the program while they are here.”
The freshman class as a whole has been forced into stepping up as several upperclassmen were hurt throughout the year. Each freshman brings his own flair and creativity to the team.
There is one game left in the Prairie Fire men’s soccer team schedule. It is a Halloween affair at Grinnell College. The Fire looks to bask in its role as potential spoiler for a Pioneer team that is still battling for a low-seed spot in the Midwest Conference Tournament.
Wish the men good luck as they look to give the Pioneers a scare as Grinnell fights for a MWC tournament berth.