Men’s soccer hits speed bump as women continue skid
After impressive wins Wednesday, the Gannon University women’s and men’s soccer clubs each suffered a heartbreaker on the road Saturday against East Stroudsburg University.
The men came into the week ranked No.17 nationally and riding an eight-game win streak into the their matchup against East Strousburg. At 8-1, it was the Knights’ best start to a season since the 2007 campaign.
Gannon scored first as senior forward Afrim Latifi scored his ninth goal of the season during the 39th minute. His goal remained the only one of the game until Danny Drago of East Stroudsburg netted the game-tying goal with just three minutes to go in the game.
It didn’t take long until the Warriors struck again as they scored the game-winning goal within six minutes of the first overtime.
The Knights, however, would bounce back as they beat Seton Hill 2-1 Monday. Latifi added to his season’s goal total with an unassisted score to tie it up at 1-1. Senior midfielder Evan Chate sealed the deal as he banked in his sixth goal of the season past the goalie during the 53rd minute.
For Latifi, the goal was his 10th of the year, passing his 2009 total. Latifi said his improvement has been a reflection of how well his teammates have worked together to become a cohesive unit.
Gannon has seven games left in the regular season before the conference tournament, but Latifi said he is not worried about that quite yet.
“We’re going to take one game at a time and hopefully get a [good] result,” he said. “We’re capable of being really great down the road.”
The Knights, now at 9-2 overall and 3-1 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, will host Davis & Elkins College in a nonconference matchup at 7 p.m. Friday.
As well as the men’s team is doing, the same cannot be said for the women’s team. The Knights have hit a skid in which it has a 1-5-1 record in their last seven games.
The women’s team also had a tough time against East Stroudsburg as they fell 3-2 on the road, putting their record at 3-5-2 overall and 2-5-1 in the conference.
After falling behind 2-0 at halftime, the Knights stormed back to tie it during the 80th minute of the contest. Three minutes later, however, the Warriors scored the eventual game-winner to give them a 3-2 win.
The Knights did pick up a much-needed 2- 1 win last week against No. 13-ranked Bloomsburg University. Junior midfielder Andrea Eisenhart scored her second goal of the season in the contest.
In order to get back to winning, coach Colin Petersen said it’s simply the scoring that needs to be improved.
During the span of the last seven games, Gannon has scored a total nine goals and has been shut out twice.
“We haven’t been consistent enough,” Petersen said. “We’ve played well in stretches. At other times, we’re so much better than our opponents. But then it seems like we have some kind of mental lapse at the wrong times of the games.”
Even though Gannon has only seven regular season games left, Petersen said that he and his team are not giving up.
Junior forward Amanda Sharbaugh, who leads the team in goals with seven, said that dedication and trust is key for her team to get back to winning.
“We need to continue to grow as a team and as individual players,” she said. “We are a talented bunch, but we just aren’t capitalizing on our opportunities and finishing the 90 minute game.”
The game against Indiana (Pa.) University this Saturday at home will be one of Gannon’s toughest tests yet.
The Crimson Hawks, 6-3-1, swept the regular season series between the two teams last year and then knocked Gannon out of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament in the first round.
Sharbaugh said she is motivated for this upcoming game.
“We’ve been talking about Oct.9 as a significant date since we lost to them in the NCAA tournament,” she said. “I think that’s enough to fuel to fire us up for the big game.”
Game time is this Saturday at 6 p.m. at Gannon University Field.
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