Squad Suffers Heartbreaking Overtime Loss to Berry College
The men’s soccer team took on an undefeated Berry College squad on the road on Saturday, but fell 2-1 in overtime. The loss — the Eagles’ third in a row — dropped them to 2-4-1 on the season.
It was a heartbreaker for the Eagles, who twice appeared to have shut down the Vikings before giving up a goal in the final stages of the period. Berry notched a game-tying goal with two minutes left to play in the second half, and the game-winner came with a minute to go in overtime.
Head Coach Sonny Travis was still encouraged by the team’s play in regulation.
“For 88 minutes, we were the better team,” Travis said.
The Eagles gained the upper hand early when they struck first with an unassisted goal from senior midfielder Andrew Natalino in the 33rd minute of play. It was Natalino’s fifth goal of the season and his fourth in three games, but it would be the last time the Eagles put a shot past Vikings freshman goalkeeper Logan Hill.
The score stayed at 1-0 until the last shot of regulation, when Berry’s sophomore forward David Shaw scored in the 88th minute to tie the game.
The goal was the only blemish on an otherwise spotless performance by freshman goalkeeper Abe Hannigan over the first two halves. The Eagles kept the score knotted at one until late in the first overtime period, when after some back-and-forth play Berry’s sophomore forward Christian Fulbright knocked in the game winner, with an assist from junior midfielder Josh Hughes at the 99th minute of play.
Fulbright’s goal kept Emory winless in overtime matches this season. The Eagles dropped to 0-2-1 in extra time, and 0-3 in games decided by one goal.
Sophomore forward Dylan Price believes the team can buck the trend.
“I think it’s just a matter of not getting overconfident,” he said. “Just because we’re playing well the whole game doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll play well in overtime.”
Emory had their chances in regulation, with seven shots on goals as compared to the Vikings’ eight.
Emory’s best opportunity came in the 12th minute of play on an early shot by freshman forward Connor Curtin that could have been the decider, but glanced off the post.
A bright spot in the three-game skid has been the impressive play of Natalino, who is looking to build on his first team all-University Athletic Association (UAA) season in 2011 and become more of an attacker. Just seven games into the season, the senior co-captain has already notched five goals, one short of his season total last year.
His emergence as a reliable midfielder has impressed Travis, who called his leading scorer “a go-to guy.”
Natalino has accounted for all of the Eagles’ goals in their last three games.
Also impressive in Saturday’s game was the performance of Hannigan, who was making his college debut. The freshman rose to the occasion, equaling his Berry College counterpart making seven saves of the Vikings’ nine shots that he faced.
“We’re all really excited about him and the fact that he’s got a whole four years here,” Price said of his goalkeeper.
Hannigan’s impressive defense was complemented by an opportunistic offense that attacked the Vikings goal often. Sophomore midfielder Michael Rheaume led the Eagles with four shots, while Natalino and freshman forward Matt Sherr both put two shots on goal.
With four freshmen in the starting lineup Saturday, the team’s young talent is evident. The coaching staff emphasized that the Eagles’ youth, especially in the attacking positions, will mature as the season progresses and allow the team to come out on the right side of one-goal games.
Still, as the team goes forward, Travis stresses that there is room for improvement in all aspects of the game. While he cited the need to apply more defensive pressure and take advantage of scoring opportunities, the team’s main objective has not shifted.
“We know we need to start peaking for UAA play,” Travis said. “That’s our goal.”
UAA play is still a few games in the distance, but the Eagles will look to snap their losing streak when they visit Birmingham Southern University (Ala.) on Thursday at 8 p.m.
By Ryan Smith