HUNTINGTON, Ind. - It couldn’t have come at more opportune time as the HU men’s soccer team recorded their first conference shutout of the season to secure a spot in postseason play with Saturday’s 2-0 win over the University of Saint Francis at Huntington North High School.
With this win, HU claims the 8th spot in the Crossroads League standings and advances to the conference tournament for the first time since 2008. The Foresters will face top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan University on Saturday, October 27, in the opening round and will look to avenge a 1-0 loss suffered to the Wildcats back on September 29.
Jake Essig’s aggressiveness was just what the Foresters needed as he made the most of his opportunities, scoring on two of his three shots to dominate the match offensively.
His first goal came 22 minutes in when he intercepted a pass from 25 out and beat his defender to rocket one up and over the keeper from the top of the 18.
He struck again with 15 minutes remaining. This time he had a little help from Jordan Jatzek who served a diagonal pass into the box. Essig won the 50/50 battle with the defender and keeper to tap one into an open net to give HU the two-goal lead.
Even though the Cougars owned a 15-12 shot advantage, Huntington more than made up for it with their impressive play on both sides of the ball, capitalizing on their offensive opportunities while relying on their lock-down defense to hold USF at bay.
“Our guys put forth tremendous effort today,” said Coach Lawson. “It was great to see them get a win under such a pressure situation.
We really controlled momentum in the first half but credit Saint Francis, they took it to us to start the second period. We played a little tentative that first 15 minutes but once we regained our composure, our communication and movement improved and the last 20 minutes was similar to our first half performance.”
Goalie Drew Mattingly was credited with his fourth shutout of the season. He finished with five saves on the day and currently leads the conference in saves with 90 and is ranked fifth in goals against average with 1.16.
With this win, the Foresters improve to 8-8-2 overall and wrap up conference play with a 3-6 record.