Halfway through the conference slate and the men’s soccer team is tied for third in the MIAA at 4-3. Calvin is atop the league at 6-1, Hope is second at 5-2 and Olivet rounds out the top four tied with Kalamazoo College.
K played at Hope last Wednesday night and suffered a 3-2 defeat in double overtime. Trailing 2-0 into the 70th minute, K got a pair of goals from freshmen William Bennick and sophomore Mason Darling to take the lead 2-1 in the 76th.
The Dutchmen rallied to score just three minutes later to tie the game and force overtime. A 101st minute Hope goal was the lone goal of the overtime periods.
The Hornets had a quick turn around after their loss to rival Hope, and hosted Trine on Saturday. Freshmen Camilo Cervino was the lone goal scorer when he found the top-90 in the 61st minute, giving the Hornets a 1-0 victory and a plus-.500 record at the midway point.
“I think we’ve learned that solely talent isn’t going to get us where we want to be,” said junior Spencer MacDonald. “Our inexperience has shown at times.”
“At the same time, our talent has shown. And our potential has shown as well,” echoed junior goalkeeper Beau Prey.
Save for the first game of the conference season against Adrian, when K let a game slip away after misfortune struck in the second half, the Hornets are largely beating teams that they should be beating if they want to be among the conference leaders. Against the bottom four teams of the eight-team conference, the Hornets went 3-1 (Adrian was that loss).
However, against the other three of the top four, the Hornets are just 1-2 on the season. The first loss came against Olivet, 3-0. The Comets played a physical match from the get go, exerting their physical dominance when opportunity allowed.
“It’s something we had to learn. This conference is very scrappy. I sort of sensed we would have to make these adjustments. And we’re learning,” said senior Mike Paule-Carres.
“Sometimes we don’t exactly match up physically and we know this,” said Prey.
Recognizing this is just one step of the battle for a team starting as many as eight freshmen. But understanding how to combat it will be one key to second-half success for K.
“You learn to look over your shoulder, brace for contact,” said Paule-Carres.
“Play quick,” said Prey.
The Calvin game came after two straight home wins against Albion and Alma and the winning didn’t stop in Grand Rapids as the Hornets dominated the matchup, finishing as 3-0 victors. Freshmen Noah Bushaw, sophomore Werner Roennecke and freshmen Kyle Hernandez all found the back of the net for K.
“When our intensity matches the teams’ we’re playing, we’re a lot to handle,” said Prey. “We can beat every team in this conference.”
Good news for K: the other three of the top four will all be guests to Mackenzie Field in the second half of the season. The Hornets are 3-1 at their home turf thus far in the MIAA, outscoring opponents 7-2.
K begins second-half play on Tuesday night, October 15, at Adrian. This Saturday, Oct. 19, K will look to climb the ladder when they host Olivet at 2:30 in the afternoon. The game will follow the women’s soccer match, which will begin at noon versus Albion and is a part of the Homecoming festivities that also include a Hornet football game starting at 2 p.m. versus Albion.