The Knox College men’s soccer team traveled to Wisconsin this weekend, dropping a match to Ripon College 2-1 on Saturday, Sept. 15 before drawing with Lawrence University 1-1 the following day. The tie against Lawrence was the first MWC point for the Prairie Fire (2-3-1, 0-1-1 MWC) since 2008.
Against Ripon, Knox found themselves in the face of struggling opponent. The Red Hawks (3-3, 1-0 MWC) were coming off the receiving end of back to back shutouts but took an early lead against the Prairie Fire after notching a goal in the fifth minute
“We did not start very well, [but] we got back into the game [going into] halftime” head coach Matt Edwards said.
Knox pulled even in the 27th minute when freshman Nathaniel Logie scored a goal with an assist from sophomore Jacob Polay.
“[Our] main focus was to send out a statement to the rest of the Midwest Conference indicating that we are a very tough team to beat,” Logie said.
“[Polay and Logie] did a great job upfront during the game by putting pressure on their back four and eventually combining for the one goal we got,” junior midfielder Maxwell Gatyas said
It was not until the 60th minute that the tie was broken via penalty kick by Ripon’s Nick Zupan, and by the end of the game, the Red Hawks had managed to outshoot Knox 12-9.
“[Freshman goalkeeper] Sean McGovern played very well. He made three or four absolutely fantastic saves,” Edwards said. “We felt as if both teams were very even in terms of play, [it] was the penalty kick that decided the game.”
Knox has not tasted victory against the Red Hawks since a double overtime 3-2 win in October 2007.
But against Lawrence, Knox was able to break a streak. Though Lawrence struck first with a score in the 22nd minute, Knox leveled the score with a goal in the 53rd. Polay scored the goal via a free kick.
Outside of the scoring moments, the game was a defensive battle.
“The defense really stepped up” junior midfielder Demoz Desta said “The back four really played well.”
“[We] fought incredibly hard throughout the entire game, [and the effort was] enough to win,” Edwards said.
The game ended in a tie after going into double overtime which gave Knox their first conference point since 2008.
“Usually teams would be celebrating after [going that long] recording a point [but] the boys were disappointed with the tie,” Edwards said. “They really wanted the win. The point wasn’t good enough for our players.” Edwards said.
The weekend, though disappointing, will prove to be a learning experience for the team according to Edwards.
“I feel that we need to improve upon our technicality and discipline. However, I am very pleased with them right now. Learning, growing and improving every game and in all things pointing in the right direction.”
The team destroyed Macmurray College 7-1 on Wednesday and welcomes rival Monmouth College to Jorge Prats Field on Saturday Sept. 22. Knox is hoping to channel the support from the Knox community onto the pitch for what is always a spirited match.
“Saturday’s game against Monmouth would be great to get as much support as humanly possible for the guys,” Edwards said. “It would [boost] the team’s enthusiasm [and] would really help the guys play well and put forth a great effort,” Edwards said.