After notching a win and a draw in their first two matchups this season, the WCU men’s soccer squad met their toughest opponent last Saturday. The Cats traveled to Charlotte to take on Division 1-A power UNC-Charlotte.
Playing on a poorly kept field, the teams began the contest in a stalemate. The first twenty minutes of the game saw neither team able to penetrate the other squad’s defense as the score remained knotted at 0-0.
Both teams then substituted, however, and the Forty-Niners gained a quick advantage. With the Western subs playing in a confused manner, UNC-C was able to gain some odd-man rushes.
After only five minutes, UNC-C was able to put two goals past keeper Joel St. Vrain by rushing the box and outnumbering Western defenders.
Head coach/midfielder Mark Burgess then made more changes to the lineup to try and stop the bleeding.
Just minutes later, Burgess was able to intercept a pass at midfield. Unassisted, Burgess dribbled the ball to 25 yards away and let loose a left-footed shot that darted into the top left corner for the Cats’ first goal.
Burgess was pleased with this score and knows his effort helped to turn the tide of the entire match.
“I’m very pleased to get on the score sheet as I’m not renowned for my goal scoring, especially by the quality of the goal,” he said. “You don’t score many like that a season.”
After this score, Western regained their composure and were able settle themselves on defense. The teams retired at halftime with the score still standing at 2-1.
The second half saw Western continue to control the ball, and they kept play on the Forty-Niners’ side for most of the second half. However, the Catamounts’ attackers were not able to convert on their chances. Even Horacio Repetto, who scored four goals in the team’s first two contests, could not fire it into the UNC-C goal.
When UNC-C did make a charge, the defensive backfield of Jonas Hellie, Jim Madern, and a much improved Deon Heggins denied the Forty-Niners from capitalizing on their scoring opportunities.
When the final pair of whistle blows ended the match, neither team could convert in the second half, and the game ended 2-1 in the favor of UNC-C. Western’s record on the young season now stands at 1-1-1.
Burgess was understandably disappointed in the loss but felt his squad lacked nothing in effort.
“Obviously I’m disappointed with the result, and I feel that we deserved a draw. I told the players at the beginning of the match – I don’t mind losing to a team with greater skills, but I do mind losing due to a lack of effort,” he said. “I felt we gave it our all, and I can’t ask for any more than that.”