Men’s Soccer: Perez lifts Tribe in CAA home opener
Following its memorable road trip, which lasted five games, and included three wins against ranked opponents, the Tribe (5-3-1, CAA 1-1) was just happy to be back home. The Tribe players showed their gratitude Saturday night defeating the College of Charleston (2-7-0, CAA 0-2) 1-0 in front of a full crowd. The victory marks the Tribe’s first conference win of the season.
Freshman goalkeeper Mac Phillips made three key saves to keep the Cougars off the scoreboard. The game marks Phillips’ 5th shutout of the season, which is the most in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Head coach Phil Norris discussed how helpful it was to finally be back home.
“Momentum is very big in our sport, especially when you play almost every three days,” Norris said. “To get back [from the road], and win this game tonight, it feels good.”
As in some of its previous matches, the College came out firing on all cylinders in Saturday’s matchup. In the first fifteen minutes, it was all Tribe as it ripped off three shots in a four-minute span. However, junior Chris Albiston’s shot was the only attempt that counted as a shot on goal, and his ball was saved by the Cougar’s goalkeeper, Alex Young.
But the Cougars were hardly out of the competition. In the 34th minute the Charleston’s Adam Noel was able to finally put a shot on goal, but his attempt from just outside the 18-yard box was stopped by Phillips. Overall, the Tribe had a 6-4 shot deficit in the first half.
Although the Tribe recorded fewer shots than the Cougars in the first half, when given a chance, redshirt senior Chris Perez’s would not be denied. In the 40th minute, sophomore forward Jackson Eskay found Perez streaking toward the box. Perez received the ball with his left foot and took it up to the 18-yard line. Just before crossing the line, Perez managed to switch feet and flick a beautiful ball over the head of the Charleston goalkeeper and into the upper left corner of the goal. The goal was Perez’s second of the season.
Norris discussed the importance of the goal in the context of their season going forward.
“Coming off a good road performance, and being able to create a little hype on campus, this win was important tonight,” Norris said. “We needed some points in the conference race, and that goal helped.”
The second half began in earnest, but the level of play was a bit uneven and messy even though both teams were still able to generate chances.
The Cougar’s best chance for an equalizer came on a counter-attack in the 56th minute. Noel was pushing the ball down the field and managed to control a ball that the Tribe defense carelessly lost. One-on-one with Phillips, Noel tried to aim the ball around the right of the goalkeeper, but Phillips was able to get a hand on the first shot as well as Noel’s rebound attempt.
On the game, the Tribe outshot the Cougars 21-10, while also holding a 10-9 advantage in corner kicks. Norris described why they were able to create so many offensive opportunities on the night.
“I think it comes down to the attitudes of the two teams,” Norris said. “Both teams were willing to allow the game to be open, there was a lot of opportunity for counter-acts, and both teams were not willing to rest on the defensive.”
The Tribe’s next match is Wednesday, Oct.. 9 when they play Maryland-Baltimore County at Martin Family Stadium at Albert-Daly Field. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.