Updated: Jan 24, 2019
The Salisbury University men’s soccer team entered Wednesday’s match against Washington College with a four-game winning streak. To get their fifth tally in the streak, they would have to grind out a 1-0 victory off a goal in the 81st minute from SU junior defender Trent Hofmeister.
While the final score suggests the game was close, the Sea Gulls (5-1) controlled much of the game. They finished the match with a total of 18 shots while keeping the Shoremen (2-2-1) to just six shots. The defensive unit also performed very well, as Salisbury senior keeper Trevor Brookhart was required to make just two saves in his fourth clean sheet of the season.
Salisbury’s first chance on offense came nine minutes in. Ryan Spadin had a good look to score, but Washington keeper Gavin Campbell knocked the ball away. Spadin also had an opportunity in the 14th minute from just inside the box, again being saved by Campbell.
After 45 minutes, Salisbury had doubled Washington in shots 6-3. However, neither team was able to score.
At the beginning of the second half, it was clear that the energy and focus of the Sea Gulls had changed. They recorded the first six shots of the period and had other great opportunities as well. SU head coach Alex Hargrove saw a chance to adjust things at the break in two areas.
“Two things, tempo and spacing,” Hargrove said. “You know, we needed to get the ball moving quickly, one or two touches off our guys’ feet. Anything that went out of bounds, we needed to get down and put in play quickly, and then just making sure our spacing was good.”
This shift in focus appeared to be the difference in the game, as it led to the Sea Gulls dominating offensively in the second half. Perhaps the biggest opportunity came from SU sophomore forward Dylan Parks in the 68th minute, when the ball rolled to him in the box, but the shot was too strong and shot over the goal.
Finally, after a multitude of chances, it was Hofmeister who broke the tie in the 81st minute after a free kick from sophomore forward Kevin Eriksen bounced off of the crossbar. The SU defender was right there to pounce on the ball and slot it into the right side of the goal. Hofmeister had one thing in mind when the ball fell to him.
“Put it in the back of the net. That’s about it, really,” Hofmeister said. “Everyone was in the right place at the right time.”
The Fallston, Md. native noted that the team just had to keep fighting until the final whistle blew. The conversion was the first for Hofmeister in the maroon and gold after transferring into the program recently.
The defensive unit played consistently well all game, allowing just three shots in each half. Following the match, Hofmeister acknowledged that Hargrove’s changes at the break did prove to be a major difference in the match, adding that the team looked out of rhythm before halftime.
Looking to extend their winning streak to six matches, Salisbury will travel north to face Misericordia University on Saturday. The Sea Gulls defeated Misericordia handedly last season at home 4-0.
By NICK LEWIS
Featured photo: SU junior defender Trent Hofmeister heads the ball out of danger. Sept. 12 (Emma Reider image).