On Wednesday, the Slippery Rock University men’s soccer team hosted the Mountain Cats of Pitt-Johnstown on James Egli Field for a PSAC clash. Behind four goals within 14 minutes in the second half, The Rock prevailed decisively and moved back into the middle of the conference table. The win extended the Green and White’s win streak over the UPJ, which dates back to 1996, to 17 games and improved the team’s mark to 4-5-2 (2-2-1 in conference).
The Rock dominated in offensive chances in the first half, recording nine shots to UPJ’s one. The team had several opportunities, the best one coming when freshman midfielder Omar Bangura hit the crossbar from only yards out in the 29th minute.
Despite commanding the shots category on the scoreboard, Slippery Rock failed to place one past Pitt-Johnstown goalkeeper Josh Zakrzewski. SRU interim head coach Kevin Wilhelm spoke of his team’s dissatisfaction with not scoring in the first 45 minutes.
“[At halftime] I just told them to be patient,” he said. “We’re not going to change anything or do anything different tactically. But we’ve got to be patient not just with the game, but we got to be patient with each other.”
The Rock came out firing after the break, getting three shots off on Zakrzewski within the half’s first two minutes. The team’s first goal came in the 61st minute after it was awarded a penalty kick and senior midfielder George Oakley struck.
From there, the men took over the contest. Freshman forward Alexander Vilchek finally scored his first collegiate goal in the game’s 64th minute. Bangura hustled his way around the Mountain Cat marking him before defaulting to his fellow freshman, who slipped it past the keeper with a low right finish.
Vilchek entered the game with 14 shots this season and exited it having had his best offensive day in a green and white kit. He scored again in the 71st minute, taking a Luke Picchi pass into his chest and then booting it out of the air and into the net’s right corner once again.
Said Vilchek, “It started off a little rough the first couple games, but now that I’ve got my first one, I think the floodgates will open and I’ll hopefully get a couple more. … Me and Omar, it took us a while to mesh together but I think after today we know what we’re going to do and where I’m going to run and where he’s going to be. It’s just coming easier to us now, every game.”
The game’s scoring closed with freshman defender Mohsen Kanani nodding home his first goal as part of the Rock in the 75th minute.
The team’s 23 shots and 13 shots on goal are its highest in both offensive statistical categories this year.
SRU junior goalkeeper Matt Hunsberger registered his fourth clean sheet of the season, tied for the most in the PSAC. He will look for a fifth this Saturday in another conference tilt, this time away at Bloomsburg.