The Slippery Rock men’s soccer team endured their first loss this season on Thursday against Mercyhurst University after recording a tie against Urbana University last Saturday.
Slippery Rock kicked off a six-home game stretch against Urbana University last Saturday. They recorded their third double overtime tie of the season.
Junior defender Zach Hall remained positive and said that the ties have helped to showcase and develop the team’s strengths.
“We take a lot of positives out of the results,” Hall said. “We have definitely seen how beneficial the depth on our roster is and we believe that will help us the entire season. As a team, we are constantly improving each game.”
The Rock got off to a slow start on Saturday, which allowed Urbana’s Jared Brand to record a goal at the sixth minute mark of the game. Urbana’s lead was increased to 2-0 when their top scorer Tyler Watson fired in a goal at the 50th minute mark.
Head coach Michael Bonelli said that the coaching staff worked to refocus the team during halftime and prepare them for a solid second half performance.
“We stressed to the team about coming out into the second half with the right attitude and a good work rate,” Bonelli said. “We just had a slow start. The impressive thing is how the team responded after the slow start.”
Slippery Rock took control during the second half and refused to let the two goal deficit discourage them. They began wearing down the Urbana defense and did an excellent job at defending their own goal.
Hall gave a lot of credit to senior defender and co-captain Drew Donaghue for the defense’s success so far this season.
“He has a large amount of experience that benefits our back line,” Hall said. “We have two additions that have not had the privilege to play in previous years with our team.”
The Rock’s efforts were finally rewarded in the 76th minute with a goal from sophomore midfielder Brandon Chiu, assisted by senior forward Michael Ramirez. Senior goalkeeper Clayton Master made an impressive save just four minutes later when Watson took a shot during a breakaway.
With the momentum in their favor, junior defender Joshua Gray was able to tally a goal for the Rock at the 86th minute mark and tie the game at 2-2. Slippery Rock was once again headed into overtime.
Both teams were given opportunities to score in the overtime periods, but the strong efforts in goal by Master and Urbana’s Darragh McGinley, kept the game at a tie.
Bonelli said the team is not getting frustrated with the ties at all and is thankful for the position they are in.
“Of course we want to win every game,” Bonelli said, “but there are a lot of teams who would like to be in our position.”
The tie against Urbana bumped Slippery Rock up three spots to number 22 in the national rankings.
The Rock faced their first PSAC match of the season on Thursday against one of their toughest competitors, Mercyhurst University. Mercyhurst came into the game fresh off of two PSAC wins.
The game kicked off at 4 p.m. Thursday in the midst of a campus-wide power outage. Master made an early save for Slippery Rock but Mercyhurst’s Alex Manea found the goal at the 19th minute mark to give them a 1-0 lead.
Despite solid efforts on both sides of the ball, the Green and White were unable to break the Lakers’ defense and score a goal. They took several shots on goal but Mercyhurst stood their ground throughout the entire game.
Neither team recorded a goal during the second half, leaving the final score at 1-0 Mercyhurst.
Bonelli and his team knew they were going into an intense game because of their long history with Mercyhurst. After Thursday’s game, Mercyhurst now holds a 14-12-2 advantage over the Rock.
“Mercyhurst is a solid team from top to bottom,” Bonelli said.
Slippery Rock will look to rebound from the loss on Sunday against Wheeling Jesuit University.