Men’s College Soccer: Keene State blanks Daniel Webster, 4-0.
NASHUA – Before they broke up their post-game meeting, Daniel Webster College men’s soccer coach Matt Correia had one more message for his team.
“Hey, I lost to Keene State 6-1 and 5-0,” said Correia, a former UMass-Dartmouth player.
Hopefully the misery-loves-company idea took some of the sting out of Wednesday’s 4-0 Eagle loss at the hands of KSC in the first meeting ever between the two programs. The Eagles, an NCAA Division III tourney team the last two seasons, are looking for respect in New England and the hope is non-conference battles against teams like the Owls around the region will get them that.
“I think this is a very good program,” Keene State coach Rick Scott said of the Eagles. “Matt Correia is doing a very good job over here. This is a good team; that’s not a 4-0 game. They deserve respect in New England. And they’ve got some teams on their schedule that will help them gain that respect.”
Will they be able to play out the schedule? All the uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the school is not a factor in his players’ thinking, Correia said. “They just want to play soccer,” he said. “We just hope it’s settled soon.”
That’s because the Eagles have more big games to play even before they begin their New England Collegiate Conference slate. They hit the road for four straight, two against non-conference foes New England College and Plymouth State.
Did Correia think they earned any respect on Wednesday? The Eagles gave up an own goal midway through the first half when a ball off the foot of goalie Cooper Hall deflected off fullback Michael Ottman and rolled into the net from about 20 yards out.
“I thought we proved we could play with the Keene State guys,” Correia said. “But we made big mistakes early that put us a goal behind at the half (1-0) and then you’re playing from behind against a really good Keene State team.
“And another big mistake on the second goal and I think our guys lost some confidence. Against a team like Keene State, down 2-0 it’s tough to come back. … But these are the types of teams we’re going to see in the NCAA tournament. If we have to take some butt whippings to get there, we’re going to do it.”
The second goal came on a flurry in front of Hall (five saves) off the foot of Riley Steele, assisted by Conor Leahy just over 10 minutes into the second half.
But the first goal was a killer.
“Honestly, I thought it went straight up,” Ottman said. “It was unlucky. I tried to shield off their forward and took it off the leg, unfortunately right into the goal.”
KSC added two goals by Promise Kpee later in the half to account for the final. Offensively, the Eagles didn’t pressure Owl keeper Jason Smith (seven saves) nearly enough, despite a couple of decent shots by Stephen Brown and Hunter DeCarolis. But scorers such as Ian Hutchinson, Marcos Vieria Filho and freshman sensation Kevin Herrera were quiet.
“We didn’t create offensive opportunities,” Correia said. “Typically we create multiple opportunities throughout the game, and today it was so much focus on the physicality and defending, we were a little to tired to create the chances we normally create.”
“We held the ball a little bit better and made them chase it,” Scott said. “And on a day like today when you’re chasing the ball you get tired a lot quicker. We took advantage of some opportunities, that was a game changer I think.”
“I think we played them pretty tough,” Ottman said. “Solid team, good team, good in their conference. Few unlucky bounces, but we’re going to bounce back and continue with our schedule in New England.”
“We feel we can take a lot from this, learn from it, and get better,” Correia said. “And that’s the plan.”
They just hope all the uncertain circumstances away from the field and the classroom allow them to carry out that plan.