The Gannon University men’s soccer team dropped its first two matches of the season at home to the University of Charleston Golden Eagles and Notre Dame College Falcons.
The Knights lost their first game against Charleston Friday, 2-1, due to a goal scored by senior forward Alexander Martinez-Gallardo. He beat the keeper in the 80th minute after stealing a pass back.
Junior forward Robbie Bennett scored the lone goal for the Knights while junior midfielder Alex Perri and redshirt senior Sean Pike each tallied an assist.
Coach Rob van Rheenen said he was pleased with the effort from his team in the game on Friday, and mentioned that in the second half the Knights began to believe that the match would turn in their favor.
Van Rheenen said the Knights lost four defenders from last year that brought leadership to the team from the back line, and it’s time for this new group to elevate its game to the next step.
Gannon was defeated by Notre Dame College Friday, 3-0, and the Knights only managed one shot on target while Notre Dame put the ball on target 15 times. Senior goalkeeper Jason Barbarino stopped a career-high 12 shots in the match.
The team finds itself in unfamiliar territory from last year when it started the season with nine straight victories, and ultimately ended with a 13-6 record.
“0-2 is a different start from a year ago when the team was 2-0,” van Rheenen said. “We can’t point fingers, and we’ll have to find a way to get better and start winning games.”
Van Rheenen said that the Knights’ defensive system starts with striker and goes all the way back to the keeper, and emphasized that this weekend was a character check for his players and he expects them to work hard individually to get better as a team.
The Knights are on the road for their next matchup to take on a PSAC opponent, the East Stroudsburg University Warriors, at 2:30 p.m. Friday. Then Gannon has to travel again to play against West Chester University of Pennsylvania at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We play two games in 48 hours on the road,” van Rheenen said. “This is a challenge for any team and our bench is not as deep as we wanted at this point in the season.”