Men’s Soccer Finds their Identity at the Right Time, but Must Improve Offensively Before Postseason

By Andrew Wuebker | Sports Editor

Instead of handshakes and bear hugs following the bellowing sound of a 90th minute horn on a cool Wednesday night, young men on two sides donning long-sleeved black and yellow jerseys turned their open palms into fists, and bear hugs into shoving matches, making a once cool evening suddenly become a heated affair.

Literally and figuratively, the Roger Williams University men’s soccer team lately has been fighting to keep their season alive. In a pivotal home game against Curry College on Oct. 11, the Hawks and Colonels engaged in a physical battle that featured seven total penalty cards and three ejections.

To get it out of the way—it was not pretty. Guys lost their cool on both sides with two Colonels and one Hawk, senior Kabine Conde, earning three-game suspensions.

With both teams jockeying for better position within the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) and battling some midseason adversity, the Hawks responded with a 1-0 triumph in what perhaps was their season-defining moment.

After starting the season at a comfortable 5-0-2, the Hawks proceeded to lose four straight games. However, victories over the University of New England and Curry, along with two scoreless ties against Bridgewater State University and Wentworth Institute of Technology—a CCC tourney runner-up the previous season—has the Hawks right again.

Extracurriculars and adversity aside, it is clear this Hawks team has grit and a championship-caliber defense.

Five of the team’s seven wins this season have been shutouts and two of their four ties finished scoreless. The Hawks are also in the top half of the conference in goals allowed, with a total of 20 on the year.

Keeping the defense perfect, however, has taken a toll on the offense, as the team is seventh in the conference for goals scored with only 27. Senior captain Sean Janson currently leads the team with five scores and 28 shots on goal this season, but took the responsibility upon himself for the Hawks’ offensive struggles.

“Scoring goals has been a problem for the team, and a lot of that I put on my shoulders,” he said. “As an attacking player, it’s my job to help create and score goals. But it also comes down to combining well with the other attacking players and working together to score goals. We work on developing chemistry in practice and hope to bring that into games.”

With only a little over a week remaining until the CCC playoffs begin, the Hawks are hard at work improving their offensive attack and maximizing their margin for error in practice. The Hawks currently sit in the sixth spot in the CCC standings with a conference record of 3-2-1, but are looking to make some headway with the goal of securing a home game in the CCC tourney.

For their CCC title goals to come to fruition, the Hawks will need to take advantage of their last two regular season games—both at home—where they are scheduled to play against CCC bottom dwellers Nichols College on Saturday, Oct. 21 and Eastern Nazarene College on Tuesday, Oct. 24.

The familiarity of their home turf and a fired up home crowd could provide an edge to a Hawks team looking to secure a home game in the postseason. More importantly perhaps, with a formulated identity and newfound confidence, the Hawks could be starting to peak.

“The team has been through a lot, but we are a closer team because of it,” Janson said. “It’s easy when things are going well, but the true test of a team is when you’re facing an uphill battle. That’s where you see what you’re made of. The team has responded well and we all want to win the CCC. That’s the focus and we are going to do everything we can to achieve it.”

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