Lions’ defense chokes in Georgia

All good things must come to an end – including perfect records. The men’s soccer team, fresh off notching their second straight win following a 5-0 victory over SUNY-Old Westbury, had a disastrous road trip over the weekend, dropping both games and lowering their record to 2-2.

On Saturday, the Lions played in Atlanta against nationally- ranked Emory University and lost by a score of 4-1, as junior Craig Langan had the only goal for the Lions.

The following day the team still found themselves in a funk, losing a heartbreaker in overtime to Oglethorpe University by a final of 3-2.

Against Oglethorpe, the Lions found themselves behind early as the Petrels claimed a two-goal lead in the 67th minute.

The Lions remained resilient, as freshman forward Kevin Luber scored his first collegiate goal on a feed from his older brother, senior forward and captain, Matt Luber at 77:41.

Soon after, sophomore Chris Nelan tied the match at two with a late goal in the 87th minute to send the game into overtime.

Oglethorpe freshman forward Ryan Stracker ended the contest, sneaking one by Lions’ junior and All-American goalkeeper Matt Kasperavicius.

“I feel we weren’t prepared mentally to play hard for 90 minutes,” senior defenseman and captain Tim Dudek said. “We thought we could just walk into this tournament and win both games.”

The two losses will need to serve as a wake-up call to the Lions, who still have a long season ahead of them.

“We can’t expect to win because we had a great season last year or because we are ranked highly,” Dudek said. “I’m glad we had this happen to us now as opposed to later in the season, because we can fix our problems before it’s too late.”

A glaring mistake made by the Lions was their inability to defend the counterattack, a defensive flaw that continually hurt them.

Luber cited this problem as a culprit for this weekend’s losses, claiming it was the aspect that hurt them most in the two losses.

“I thought we played well enough to win that (Emory) game,” Luber said. “We just got caught on counterattacks. We have to get better at defending when we lose the ball.”

Kasperavicius, who has been optimistic about the work-in-progress defense all season long, was particularly stoic this week, offering up only that he feels the defense will “work itself out” after finding the right personnel and playing a few more games.

Kasperavicius critiqued his performance in net over the past week now “average” after making three saves and allowing seven goals in three games of work.

Despite the demoralizing losses, Dudek still had a positive outlook on the season. “I think the main reason we lost both games was that we didn’t work as hard as the other teams for the full 90 minutes,” he said.

However, Dudek went on to say that as long as the Lions play hard for 90 minutes, no one would be able to beat the team.

That domination was evident in the offensive explosion last Wednesday night, when four different Lions scored goals in the trouncing of SUNY-Old Westbury.

Luber, senior captain and forward Mike Ferber, and forward junior Nima Rahimi all scored one goal apiece, while Dudek contributed with two.

The Lions will attempt to fix their mistakes and put themselves on the right track in their next match tonight against the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J.