Men’s Soccer Dominate in Shutouts
The men’s soccer team evened its record at 4-4-1 after two shutout wins — a 5-0 road triumph over Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) (Ala.) on Thursday night and a 4-0 home win over Millsaps College (Miss.) on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles’ win over BSC snapped a three-game losing streak in dominant fashion. After 32 scoreless minutes of play, sophomore forward Dylan Price knocked in two goals in a span of three minutes to give the team an early 2-0 lead.
“It’s big to come out and take the lead early,” Price added.
Price wasn’t finished though, as he scored a third goal in the 64th minute of play for his first career hat trick. Head Coach Sonny Travis has taken note of Price’s recent offensive outburst.
“Dylan has really picked up his game,” Travis said. “He’s got a knack for scoring.”
Both the Eagles’ offense and defense were in dominant form on Thursday. Senior midfielder Andrew Natalino followed Price’s goals with one of his own in the 70th minute. It was Natalino’s fifth goal in the last four games.
“I want to help the team in any way I can,” Natalino said. “My goal for this team is to win a national championship. If I need to score goals for that to happen, I’ll do it.”
In the 78th minute of play, sophomore defender Carl Credle scored the first goal of his college career to put the game away.
The victory was an all-around effort, with each Eagles’ goal coming off an assist. Junior defender Nolan McKeever and junior forward Andrew Jones led the team with two apiece.
Meanwhile, the Eagles’ defense limited the BSC Panthers to seven shots, three of which were on goal. No BSC player took more than one shot, and the home team, which dropped to 3-3-1, frequently went through 20-minute stretches without attacking the Emory goal.
Travis stressed the need for the defense to continue improving as the season goes on.
“It’s going to be crucial. We’re going to see top-notch competition. We’ve had some injuries, but players have stepped up for us, and we’ve played well as a team defensively,” Travis said.
It was the largest margin of victory for the Eagles since Sept. 16, 2011 against Virginia Wesleyan College, and the largest in an away game since a 7-0 victory at Methodist University (N.C.) on Sept. 18, 2010.
The Eagles continued their dominance on Saturday afternoon when they hosted Millsaps. Emory jumped out to an early lead in the 13th minute of play when Price scored again, giving him a total of seven goals on the season.
Natalino then found the back of the net in the 23rd minute, bouncing a shot off the far post and into the net to extend the Eagles’ lead by two. Freshman midfielder Nick Schook was credited with the assist for both goals.
In the second half, Natalino struck again, scoring an impressive unassisted goal in the 61st minute after dodging several Millsaps defenders.
It was Natalino’s team-leading eighth goal of the season, marking the fifth consecutive game in which he has scored. With the United Athletic Association (UAA) play yet to start, the all-conference midfielder is already only three goals shy of his career high.
“He’s huge for us,” Price said of his captain. “He’s a good role model on and off the field, someone to count on when things aren’t going so well.”
The scoring onslaught finally ended in the 72nd minute when sophomore midfielder Zachary Rosenberg ricocheted a shot off a Majors’ defender, knocking in his second goal of the season.
The Eagles’ defense was nearly flawless, allowing the Majors only two shots on goal, and none in the first half.
Freshman goalkeeper Abe Hannigan earned his second win of the season, improving his record to 2-1. Sophomore Nathan Miles spelled Hannigan late and added a save in his first collegiate appearance.
The squad is no stranger to blowout victories — after Saturday’s game, the Eagles have now outscored opponents 16-1 in their four wins this season.
Natalino and Price were the offensive catalysts in the games, combining for seven of the team’s nine goals. The duo leads the Eagles with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
“He [Price] and Andrew have been a great pair for us,” Travis said of his leading scorers.
Travis, who previously stressed the need for the team to gain some momentum before heading into UAA play, believes that the Eagles are on the right track.
“I don’t think we’re peaking right now, but we’re definitely going in the right direction. It’s taken a while for our offense to gel. We still need to put two really good halves together,” Travis said.
The Eagles will pay a visit to Sewanee College (Tenn.) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in their final game before the UAA season begins.
— By Ryan Smith