Paul Smiths, NY - Wins are proving elusive for the VTC men's soccer team over the first half of the season. The Knights on Saturday dropped their away match 3-2 against the Lumberjacks of Paul Smith's College. The Knights fall to 0-4-1, with all but one conference loss coming by just a single goal.
The Knights scored first in the 16th minute when speedy freshman Mikell McKenzie ran on to a ball slotted through the high-pressing Lumberjack back line and beat the keeper in the penalty area. The Lumberjacks answered just three minutes later to even the score at 1-1. The remainder of the first half saw the Knights play their best attacking soccer of the season, outshooting their opponent (13-9), generating more corner kids (5-2), and committing less fouls (4-10). But the Lumberjacks didn't break, their backs skillfully pulled VTC attackers into offsides positions five times--including once that brought back an apparent goal--and the half ended tied 1-1.
Both teams came out strong in the second half, and it was Paul Smiths that struck first, with a header off a corner kick in the 66th minute to go up 2-1. VTC Senior Phil Hepburn evened the match at 2-2 in the 69th minute when he spotted the keeper off his line and skillfully launched an arcing high ball from 40 yards out and into the net.
VTC continued to move the ball well, demonstrating a new-found patience in their attacking third, but the team was tiring. The Knights lost three players to injury and touches became increasingly poor as fatigue set in. The Lumberjacks in contrast showed no sign of tiring, outshooting VTC and generating more corner kicks, and finally beating VTC's back line at mid-field and then VTC Keeper Jon Alvin for the go-ahead and winning goal.
Coach Murawski had this to say of his squad: "We showed up to play today, unlike our previous loss. We worked hard and we played pour best attacking soccer of the season. But it wasn't enough because after 70 minutes, our fitness lets us down, players get injured, passing becomes unreliable, and we fail to finish the opportunities we create. To me, that's why we lost: Paul Smiths outworked us in the days, and weeks leading up to today, and their fitness carried them."
The Knights travel this coming weekend to Maine for conference games against Maine Machias and Unity College.