By Justin Kozloski
The F&M men’s soccer team began a new chapter in its history on Saturday, Nov. 9 when it became the first men’s soccer team at F&M to win the Centennial Conference.
“The team in 1952 won a different conference — the mid-Atlantic conference — so we are the first team in F&M history to win this, the Centennial Conference,” said Chris Scott ’15, defender and co-captain of the men’s soccer team. “Just knowing that our team is going to go down in history as being the champions is a pretty cool feeling.”
This historical win was a result of a neck-to-neck final minutes shot in the last minute of the game, which allowed the team to break the tie with Dickinson College and claim the Centennial Conference title.
The Dips took an early lead in the first 10 or so minutes of the first half, giving the team a sense of spirit as well as a sense of anxiety at the recognition of the importance of this particular game.
“I think half-time would be one of the more noticeable situations because we had a one-nothing lead by the end of the first half and so we knew that we had 45 minutes left to keep that score and win the game,” Scott said. “So we were all pretty anxious to get back at it and hopefully have those 45 minutes pass with the same one-nothing score.”
Even though the Dips took such an early lead it was not an easy match, and the players fought for their win the entire game. The Dips even had to deal with some unsportsmanlike conduct from the opposing Dickinson Devils.
However, the team showed a bond even through this, which contributed to the success of the team.
“The red card that Dickinson drew was pretty crazy because of how malicious the foul was,” said T.J. White ’14, goalie for the men’s soccer team. “Devon Malfitano ’16 took a beating all game and just kept getting up. When he got kicked, the entire team was at his side in a second and looking back at it I think it really speaks volumes to how tight we all are as both a team and a group of friends.”
Despite their hard efforts and their early lead Dickinson scored with only 10 minutes left in the game, tying up the game and making the Dips fight for their Conference win.
“They scored with about 10 minutes left in the game to tie it,” Scott said. “I think I was pretty anxious at that point because, after all that work, they had finally tied the game and kind of took the spirits out of us. They had the momentum at that point. At that point it was all about our character and how we would bounce back from that goal.”
The Dips bounced back with about two minutes remaining, when Scott deflected in a corner kick from Ryan O’Connell ’14, putting the Diplomats in the lead and allowing them to come out of the game as the champions.
“[The fact that we won] took a couple seconds to kick in, but seeing the reactions on my teammates’ faces, it was three months of hard work, training everyday kind of came together for that one moment,” Scott said. “It was one of those scenarios that you dream about. It’s a storybook ending, but you never expect it to happen, so when it did, it was just an unreal experience.”
The Centennial Conference win opened the doors for the team to move on to the first round of the NCAA tournament, where the boys played against their first-seed competitors, Catholic University of America, at Dickinson Saturday, Nov. 16.
“We hope to take the NCAA tournament one game at a time and not overlook any opponents,” said David Rosenfeld ’14, defender and co-captain of the men’s soccer team. “We know that every team we play from here on out will be a difficult opponent, and we must prepare for each game diligently because it is win or go home every game.”
However, even with the importance of the games, the team members stress that it is their goal to play every game as if it were any other game and enjoy playing and play hard.
“This team has a hunger to play like I’ve personally never seen before,” said Ben Beaver ’14, forward for the men’s soccer team. “Everyone enjoys practice, enjoys the games, enjoys being around one another. We just want to keep playing as long as we can.”
The boys won its first NCAA match against the Catholics in the last few minutes of the second half, allowing them to move on to the next round where they will face the Dickinson Devils for the third time this season.
Senior Justin Kozloski is the Editor-in-Chief. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.