A pair of one-goal losses to Carroll University and Beloit College over Homecoming weekend made three one-goal defeats in the last four games for the Knox College men’s soccer team.
Knox trailed against Carroll the entire game, having given up goals in the 19th and 54th minutes. The men fought hard to get themselves back into the game, but when freshman Charles Edembascored in the 89th minute, it proved too little too late for the Prairie Fire in the 2-1 result.
It was more of a back-and-forth contest against Beloit, which featured offense from the get-go. Beloit opened the scoring in the 2nd minute, but Knox would answer in the 6th when senior Donald Tchopya scored his sixth goal of the year to make it 1-1.
With Knox down 2-1 in the 52nd minute, Tchopya fed freshman Nathaniel Logie for a goal to tie the game for a second time. Tchopya’s impact on the offense reflected the upside of the more experienced players on the team, according to head coach Matt Edwards.
“Donald on [a given day] can be unstoppable and can go around people like they’re cones or statues. He’s got so many tricks,” he said.
Beloit would tally two goals of their own in the 10 minutes following Logie’s strike, and though Knox would receive a goal from sophomore Jacob Polay in the 83rd minute, the Prairie Fire would once again come up one goal short.
Scrambling to come back late in the game was a good show of character, according to Edwards, but he believes the team needs to improve their performance early in contests.
“We have managed to dig ourselves holes in pretty much every game,” Edwards said. “We’ve proven we can score goals, which gives us belief we can come back, but we need to show a little more concentration early in games.”
Senior defensive midfielder Michael Gasparro seconded his coach’s concern.
“We are a strong second half team. With our fitness and our [style of play] it tailors to being us being a second half team,” Gasparro said. “But we need to come out strong in the first so we can have an even stronger second half. We’re unbeatable when that happens.”
One of the issues, according to Edwards, is the team’s defense of free kicks and set plays.
“Somewhere near 75 percent of the goals we’ve conceded have come from set pieces, which is just way too many,” Edwards said. “Typically about 30 percent of goals you give up should come from set pieces, no more. If you take away set pieces we win a whole bunch more games.”
Knox has two games remaining to show their improvement and try to break through for another victory. The first is on Thursday against Illinois College, the second on Saturday against St. Norbert, which will also be Senior Day.