Soccer sets sights on Liberty League trophy

First-year Megan Saari shows off her foot skills in a game against New Paltz. The women’s soccer team has had a great year and will face RIT in the LL championship semi-final this Saturday. / Courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

The men’s and women’s soccer teams both faced off against Ithaca College to close out their regular season schedules this past weekend.

The men’s soccer team clinched a number-two seed in the Liberty League tournament with an exciting win 1-0 over Ithaca on Saturday. Although the women lost, they were still able to secure the number-two seed.

The men’s team set program history with their win on Saturday. This season is the first time the Brewers put up six wins in the Liberty League.

Statistically, the Brewers dominated the game. Vassar took 11 shots compared to Ithaca’s six, and the Brewers earned two more corner kicks than their opponent.

In a well-fought first half, both sides remained scoreless. It wasn’t until the 67th minute that sophomore Kevin Baliat found the back of the net. Senior Hayden Van Brewer sent in a ball from the sideline, and Baliat found it at the far right post and knocked it in. The Brewers maintained the lead for the last 20 minutes of the game and walked away with the win.

Senior goalkeeper Matt Marcelino saved one of Ithaca’s six shots. Marcelino has been dominant in the net for the Brewers this season, posting 24 saves in the season and helping secure six wins for the Brewers. He was also named Liberty League defensive player of the week for his performance in the last two games of the regular season, shut- ting out both RIT and Ithaca.

He was very impressed with how the team came out and battled throughout the entire game. “It was a great game on Saturday. From the kickoff, we undoubtedly controlled the game, out-possessing, shooting and frankly outplaying our opponent,” Marcelino stated. “Despite the low scoreline, we maintained our dominant performance throughout the entirety of the match. Amidst some tough injuries, it’s awesome to have such a convincing game with players stepping up and smoothly transitioning into the starting rotation.”

In terms of what the team is going to do to prepare for their next game, Marcelino stressed getting the team rested and recovered. “Cliché as it sounds, playing soccer nearly every day since Aug. 18 is tremendously tiresome. Thankfully, we were able to clinch a top spot in the regular season, allowing us to take a full week to recuperate and reinvigorate ourselves for what will hopefully be a long and fruitful post-season run,” he explained.

Marcelino also mentioned that the team isn’t really looking to change too much before they play their next game. They are going to focus on just playing their game, a style that has clearly worked well for them this season. “In regards to any tactical adjustments, we always place an emphasis on playing our own style—possessing, maintaining our shape offensively and defensively, etc,” he commented. “We will tweak some areas to address key matchups we expect to see, but a win is dependent upon us persist- ing with the game plan we’ve developed over the course of the season.”

With this win, the Brewers will have a bye in the first round of the Liberty League tournament. Hobart, the number one seed, will be hosting. Vassar will play the winner of the Skidmore and St. Lawrence game on Saturday, Nov. 4, in the semifinal round.

Men’s Soccer Coach Andy Jennings was extremely pleased with the way his Brewers performed this past weekend. After the game, Jennings spoke with a Vassar Athletics correspondent.

“Itwasawesomeforustogooutonawinanda really exciting, great game,” he commented. “The attitude was fantastic, they worked hard and we knew what we had to do.Wehadtogooutandwin it and we like those situations because we like to attack. They did a great job defensively, held us to just one goal. But I’m very excited for the players because they’ve worked very hard for this. It’s a tough league, and we did very well, so we’re really happy.”

The women’s team had a strong season of their own, finishing second in the Liberty League despite a 1-2 loss against Ithaca College on Saturday. The Brewers finished off their regular season with a 5-3-1 record in the league.

Things started off well for the Brewers, with first-year Ashley Ferry connecting on a cross from senior Amanda McFarland in the eighth minute of the game.

Ithaca was dominant throughout the first half, taking nine shots compared to Vassar’s one. Ithaca also earned five corner kicks, while the Brewers didn’t have any. However, at the half, the Brewers were still up 1-0.

In the second half, Ithaca took another nine shots, converting on two of them. Simply having more opportunities to get the ball in the back of the net proved to be a winning strategy for Ithaca. In the 79th minute, Ithaca’s Kendall Cirella tied the game at 1-1 on a penalty kick. Eight minutes later, Ithaca’s Shannon McMillan scored a goal from 30 yards out. In the last 13 minutes of the game, the Brewers remained scoreless, securing the win for Ithaca.

“I think our whole team wishes we could have that game back,” said McFarland. “I thought we did a good job individually but didn’t work collectively as a team, which is where Ithaca was able to take advantage of us. Going into the next game, we’re really focusing on moving and working as a collective and organized unit.”

Despite the fact that they lost, several Brewers played quite well. First-year goalkeeper Fiona Walsh tallied seven saves against 18 shots. First-year Ally Thayer led the Brewers on offense with three shots, two of which were on goal.

Ferry’s goal improved her point total to 22, the highest on the team and third-best in the league. McFarland now has 16 total points off six goals and four assists.

The Brewers will travel to William Smith College on Nov. 4 for the Liberty League semifinals against RIT.

“I plan on helping lead the team this week by leading by example and playing in a way that inspires others to perform at their peak. As a senior, this last Liberty League opportunity is incredibly important to me,” McFarland said. “Every athlete dreams of ending their career on their best season yet, and I think we’re poised to do just that. If we can really show up this weekend, I have no doubt that we will be in the championship game.”

First-year Andrew Goldsmith runs downfield in a game at Gordon Field earlier this season. The men’s team looks to win their second straight Liberty League championship this weekend at Hobart. / Courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

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