Soccer plays to tie with Broncos

The men’s soccer team finished up conference play yesterday with a 2-2 tie against Western Michigan. Yesterday’s game for the Falcons also capped off a busy two-week stretch, which consisted of six games, three of which were Mid-American Conference games.

The Falcons took part in two conference games this weekend, one at home and one on the road. The first had the Falcons on the road, as they lost 1-0 to Marshall on Friday night.

The Falcons went into the weekend highly optimistic, hoping to improve on their conference record and their seeding in the MAC tournament. However, this was not the case for the Falcons on Friday.

The Falcons were outshot by the Thundering Herd, 14-8, in the first half and they gave up the first and only goal of the game late in the first half. The goal, for the Herd, proved to be enough as they defeated the Falcons 1-0. In the loss, Falcon goal tender, Dave DeGraff recorded nine saves, while his counterpart, Chris McKinney, saved five goals and earned the shutout.

“Friday night we probably played some of the worst soccer we played all season,” said head coach Mel Mahler. “It’s just one of those games, it happens. We couldn’t do anything right, but we played very well in the second half. And as the minutes kept ticking off we played better and better. We had some great chances, but we just couldn’t finish and we really let one slip away.”

Following the tough loss, the Falcons hoped to bounce back at home yesterday. The opponent, Western Michigan, came into the game with a 10-7 record overall and was 3-2 in conference play. The Falcons were the first to score in yesterday’s match, when they found the back of the net with six seconds left in the first half. Paul Dhaliwal’s goal gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead and was the team’s first goal in the three games. The late first-half goal was Dhaliwal’s third goal of the season and was assisted by Adrian Akpan and Eric Duda.

The 1-0 lead for the Falcons, however, did not last long into the second half. The Broncos struck offensively early in the second half. Western Michigan tied the game 1-1 less than three minutes into the half.

The tie between the two teams did not last too long and Western Michigan took the lead with 30 minutes remaining in the game. Now down a goal, the Falcons began threatening offensively. The Falcons gave themselves plenty of opportunities to tie the game, and it finally paid off as they managed to find the back of the net and tied the game at 2-2. The game-tying goal was scored by Dustin Snyder, his fourth of the season, and was assisted by Bobby Woods and Dhaliwal.

The game remained even at the end of regulation play, despite great efforts by both teams, and was forced into overtime. Both offenses were threatening and both the Falcons and the Broncos saw possible game-winning goals deflect off the goal posts. The great effort by both teams resulted in a 2-2 tie in two overtimes, and was highlighted by the great game of Dave DeGraff.

DeGraff had nine saves in yesterday’s game and surpassed the 100 save mark for the season. This is DeGraff’s first 100-save season for the Falcons.

“Today, Dave DeGraff was absolutely brilliant,” said coach Mahler. “Dave DeGraff single handily kept us in the match. He enabled to keep us in the game and get it to 2-2. Dave came up big all afternoon.”

The winless weekend for the Falcons, however, was not what the team was hoping for. “It’s disappointing, it was important to win this match to get the seeding that we wanted in the MAC tournament, but now we just have to wait and see what other teams do today,” Mahler said.

The 6-4-7 Falcons have two non-conference games next weekend before they start their conference tournament. They are scheduled to take on Michigan State on the road and will wrap up the regular season next Sunday against Detroit Mercy.