Tartans, Spartans Blank Eagles

Senior forward and co-captain Moustafa Khattab faces off against Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) on Oct. 26. The Eagles lost 2-0 to the Tartans to start off a winless weekend. Sarah Taha/Staff

The Eagles suffered two shutouts on Oct. 26 and 28, a disappointing way to mark the Emory men’s soccer team’s final two home games of the season. Despite moments of impressive control in both games, second-half fatigue ultimately cost the Eagles both matches and likely their chance at a tournament berth.

Friday evening’s matchup against Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) (Pa.) looked like the closest game of the season so far in the first half. Despite the Tartans getting off to an early shot lead of 7-4 in the first 25 minutes, the Eagles found a wave of energy in the latter part of the half. Not only did the team put themselves in the lead in terms of shots, but they also gained clear control of the ball and the match. Seeming like themselves early in the season, Emory made clean, quick passes and outmatched CMU defenders.

After leaving the field tied 0-0 at halftime, the Eagles returned ready to play. Despite firing off a shot in the first five minutes of the second half, the team could not continue to play at their previous pace. The offense’s attacks became more spread out and thereby more easily intercepted. Few plays came close enough to the goal to develop into shots.

On the other end of the field, Emory’s defense seemed to tire out. A slow response to a loose ball in Emory’s own half allowed CMU junior midfielder Elliot Cohen to slip past the last man. Emory sophomore goalkeeper Cole Gallagher brought Cohen to the ground in an attempt to prevent a goal, leading to a penalty kick which Cohen promptly sunk into the net.

Another defensive mishap let CMU junior midfielder Jack Painter weave into the box and score from around Gallagher. With only 12 minutes remaining in the match, the Eagles tried to rally with a late header shot from senior midfielder Tyler Santee, but to no avail, ending the game 2-0 in the Tartans’ favor.

Junior defender Jimmy Tricolli prepares to clear the ball against Carnegie Mellon. Sarah Taha/Staff

Sophomore defender Josh Berman, who had a strong performance throughout the match, said the team kept him going despite the difficult game.

“Everyone on the team has your back, even the players on the bench,” Berman said. “We go out every game trying to win, and that’s what we’re going to do on Sunday.”

The Eagles rolled into Sunday’s Senior Day match versus Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) hoping to keep their chances of appearing in the NCAA tournament alive. Unfortunately, the match ended in favor of the Case Western Spartans after Emory fell victim to many of Friday’s shortcomings.

Emory started the match with clear improvements in communication. The players talked audibly on the field, warning teammates of defenders and open-pass opportunities.

Despite an early goal by Case Western senior forward Alex Besl into the back-left corner, the team managed to keep building energy. Yet another Spartan goal by junior forward and midfielder Zachary Senft off a penalty kick seemed to only spur on the Eagles. After allowing these two goals, Emory turned around the last 20 minutes of the half, making them the strongest of the day.

Once again in the second half, the Eagles could not find a clean opportunity to score. Overshot passes continually led to possession changes against the team. Meanwhile, the Case Western offense only increased their pressure.

Emory junior goalkeeper Trevor Stormes, who had five saves during the match, obtained a red card and left the game after charging Case Western sophomore midfielder Connor Weber and denying him a shot on goal. Weber scored on the resulting penalty kick to bring the score to 3-0 Spartans.

Khattab handles the ball under pressure from Carnegie Mellon. Sarah Taha/Staff

Junior midfielder Jun Tsuru, who piloted one of the team’s three shots on goal, felt Emory’s offense lacked in consistency. He expressed the need for a “striker who plays consistently over every game, so he can mold and have chemistry connecting with the rest of the team.”

“For us it is obviously disappointing result,” Head Coach Cory Greiner said. “At this point our entire focus has been just to enjoy ourselves and enjoy our soccer, and to see if we can find a way to manufacture a chance to score goals.”

As for his objective for the team’s final regular season game?

“I don’t care about the result,” Greiner said. “I want to see — can we enjoy ourselves? And can we score a goal in the conference?”

The Eagles will play the University of Rochester (N.Y.) on Nov. 3 at 11 a.m.

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