EC men’s soccer saw a two game winning streak come to an end on Oct. 3 after North Central handed the Bluejays a 3-0 loss in what NCC head coach Matt Klosterman called a “huge” win.
“We know that [Elmhurst is] a team that is going to be contending,” said Klosterman. “Being able to come out and get a win against a team like that is huge for us.”
Not only did the Cardinals manage to shut the Bluejays out, they also limited the EC offense to four shot attempts, with only three on goal.
“We just worked really hard and played well as a unit,” added Klosterman. “Elmhurst always makes it really hard … so we had to win a lot of the one on one battles.”
North Central junior forward Gavin Sanchez was quite pleased with the play off the NCC defense, mentioning that, “the play in our back end was lights out, especially [goalkeeper] Connor [O’Neill].”
EC head coach David Di Tomasso provided The Leader with a statement regarding the game in which he noted that, “our offense was flat out poor.”
Di Tomasso went on to add that, “to win in the CCIW your most talented players have to play well and that did not happen against the Cardinals. We were simply outplayed in every aspect of the game.”
The Bluejays had a particularly difficult time limiting Sanchez, as the North Central forward shot the ball five times, putting three on goal and two into the net.
His first goal of the night came during the opening half after he ran in from the left side of the pitch and received a pass from Cardinals freshman defender Sean Sweeney, which Sanchez promptly deposited into the back of the net, giving his team a 1-0 lead.
“I came in on the wing and got a nice pass from Sweeney,” said Sanchez, reflecting on the goal. “I was just able to chest it down and put my left foot on it.”
Sanchez led a North Central offense that totaled 15 shot attempts against the Bluejays. Nine of those attempts came during the second half, as the Cardinals peppered the EC defense with shots.
Despite the lopsided shot differential, EC senior goalie Nick King managed to keep his team in the game until late in the contest, turning away numerous Cardinal opportunities in front of the net.
“I thought King was outstanding in goal,” said Klosterman. “He cleaned up some really, really tough chances where I thought we put some good shots on frame.”
Di Tomasso mentioned that, “King is a fantastic goalkeeper that ran into a very motivated North Central team. This was far from our best performance as a team in the 2017 season and Nick suffered for it.”
The victory leaves the Cardinals in a good place as they continue their conference schedule.
“Coming off of a double overtime win against Carthage and being able to shutout a team like Elmhurst, we’re flying high right now,” said Sanchez.
In order to reach those same heights, the Bluejays will need to put together a stronger effort against defending CCIW champion Wheaton College on Oct. 11 at Langhorst Field.
“Moving forward our team will have to figure out what they want to achieve,” wrote Di Tomasso.
“Personalities will have to come out, leadership will need to step up, and performance across the board must be better from the players and the staff.”