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Thoughts, news and notes from the sports staff of The Saratogian newspaper, located in historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The gang in the corner office on Lake Avenue give you the post-game wrap-ups, news and notes from the games we cover and opinions about the sports we read about every day.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thoughts about Skidmore men's soccer and a historic win over Saint Lawrence


You could tell from the way the crowd rushed Wachenheim Field after the final whistle that it was a meaningful victory. It was the sort of celebration usually reserved for postseason matches, but considering the Skidmore men's soccer program had just notched its first victory over St. Lawrence 1-0, it seemed appropriate. The Saints were undefeated before the match and the No. 2 ranked college soccer team in the country. Here are some thoughts about the historic match:

Adam Beek
The Goal: I'm sure Skidmore (6-1-1, 2-0) coach Ron McEachen would have taken any type of goal against St. Lawrence (6-1, 0-1) , as long as it led to a victory. What the veteran coach got, however, was a thing of beauty. The decisive play started as a counter-attack down the right side the field for Skidmore. Thoroughbreds target-man Brock Bakewell provided the incisive pass with a header down through two defenders to Adam Beek cutting in toward the goal. Beek could have taken a touch to gain better control of the ball, instead, the Jamaican unleashed a blast into the far post that goalkeeper Nate Goss-Woliner had no chance to stop.

The Spirit: On paper, St. Lawrence was the more talented team. And you don't go unbeaten in 32 consecutive regular season matches (17 matches unbeaten in the Liberty League) without playing well as the Saints have the past two-plus years. Still, the harder-working, more cohesive team on the turf Saturday was Skidmore. The hosts won more 50-50 balls and kept a solid defensive shape for most of the match.
"We knew we had to be collectively together and I think that was the key to the game," said a smiling McEachen after the match. "They stuck it out and did it against as good a team as there is in the country."

The Red Card That Should Have Been Given: Many fouls in soccer are judgement calls, but there are rules about what must happen after certain fouls are called. For example, a referee couldn't call a direct-kick foul in the penalty box and not award a penalty. Similarly, if a player is denied a direct scoring opportunity as the result of a foul, the player responsible must be red carded. There are two situations where this rule comes into play most often. First, when a defender stops a ball from going in the net with his hand. Second, when a defender fouls a player on a breakaway. The later situation happened in the 73rd minute Saturday. Skidmore's Ike Okepoebo was sent through on a breakaway — with no defenders between him and the goalkeeper — when he was tripped from behind by St. Lawrence defender Alex Laird. In truth, it didn't look like Laird meant to trip him, just that he clipped Okepoebo's heel while he was chasing him down. But a goal-scoring opportunity is a goal-scoring opportunity and since the referee called the foul — which he did — it should have been a red card. This would have been a bigger talking point if the Saints had come back to tie the game.

Whoa That Was Close: With less than three minutes left to play St. Lawrence nearly equalized on a header off a corner kick. In fact, if Skidmore's Alex Hodor-Lee had not been guarding the back post, it would have been 1-1. But Hodor-Lee (who battled up and down the right flank and almost scored on a free kick) was there to knock the ball out of bounds for another St. Lawrence corner. The hosts cleared the ensuing cross and catastrophe was averted for the moment.

Whoa That Was Close (Again): This game was in the balance until the final seconds. Eight seconds to be exact. That's when St. Lawrence's last-gasp ball into the Skidmore box was somehow redirected on goal. But Thoroughbred goalkeeper Eli Kisselbach (10 saves in the shutout) caught the ball, waited a few seconds, then punted it down the field as the final whistle blew and a cheer erupted from the home fans. 


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