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Men’s soccer keeps slim playoff hopes alive over weekend

Junior+forward+Luke+Picchi+attempts+a+steal+during+the+team%27s+1-2+loss+over+East+Stroudsburg.
Junior forward Luke Picchi attempts a steal during the team's 1-2 loss over East Stroudsburg.

Junior forward Luke Picchi attempts a steal during the team's 1-2 loss over East Stroudsburg.

Paris Malone

Paris Malone

Junior forward Luke Picchi attempts a steal during the team's 1-2 loss over East Stroudsburg.

Brendan Howe, Rocket Contrubutor

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Hopeful of keeping its postseason chances alive, the Slippery Rock University men’s soccer team played a pair of conference matches this weekend. On the road Friday at Millersville, the team was blanked before returning to the comforts of home and prevailing over California (Pa.) early Sunday evening.

Against the Marauders, junior forward Luke Picchi snapped the Green and White’s sole shot on goal in the first half. Meanwhile, MU’s Jaxon Burns broke the seal on the scoreboard in the 20th minute and teammate Jadon Courtney doubled the hosts’ advantage three minutes before the period ended.

Early in the second half, SRU junior goalkeeper Matt Hunsberger made his first and second saves of the game. However, later in the 49th minute, the Marauders offensive found back of the net for the third time.

In the 58th minute, Rock senior midfielder George Oakley got loose in the box and fired a shot, only for it to be saved by Millersville’s Darian McCauley.

The Rock’s fate was sealed in the 72nd minute, when the Marauders made it 4-0, sending the team home 18 minutes later with a disappointing third successive loss.

Late Sunday afternoon, SRU snapped the losing streak as they entertained California (Pa.)

The team’s offense outshot the Vulcans 6-1 in the contest’s first half hour. In the 31st minute, freshman striker Alexander Vilchek finished off a Hector Buchter chip for the game’s first—and only—goal.

In the second half, The Rock defense proved solid, preventing the Vulcans from equalizing. Hunsberger cleaned up shots in the 58th and 61st minutes to secure his fifth clean sheet of the campaign.

Of avoiding being Cal U’s first conference win of the aging season, SRU interim head coach Kevin Wilhelm said, “It was a backs-against-the-wall kind of game, where we knew we needed to get three points to still be in the hunt to make playoffs in the conference […] We want to extend it for as long as we can keeping ourselves in that game.”

He was pleased with the way his team held off the visitors in the second period but made note of the lack of consistency in the two halves.

“[The] second half was the type of situation where we just couldn’t settle down. We couldn’t complete our passes and we couldn’t even clear balls off the line. We showed our immaturity there in the second half,” he said. “But once it got to be around the box between [Hunsberger] and the back four, they did a nice job. They did a nice job killing the game off.”

Sitting at 5-8-2, Wilhelm and company have three games remaining games on its schedule to eclipse last season’s win total, two of which will be at home against teams that are currently toward the top of the PSAC table.

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Men’s soccer keeps slim playoff hopes alive over weekend