Wabash Recovers After 2OT Loss, Pushes for NCAC Playoff Berth
It was a sore and disappointing weekend for the Little Giants as they fell 2-1 in double overtime against No. 22-ranked and conference-leading Kenyon College (11-1-1, 6-0 NCAC). A first-half goal from Coledon Johnson ’23 was not enough for the win as the Lords clawed their way back into the game, eventually scoring the winner in the second period of overtime. However, on Tuesday night Wabash (10-4-1, 3-2- 1 NCAC) got their season back on track with a 3-0 away victory at Wittenberg (6-6-3, 1-4-1 NCAC).
Despite coming into Saturday’s contest unbeaten in conference play, Kenyon looked flaccid in the first half. Wabash knocked the ball around nicely and Johnson was unlucky when the linesman ruled his 12th-minute opportunity offside. The Little Giant defense thoroughly frustrated the Kenyon front line, with Cristian Aleman ’22 and Quinn Leous ’23 doing notably well at the back.
The opening goal came near the end of the period. Wabash whipped in a corner kick to the front post, but nobody could quite get a foot on it. The ball bobbled around for a few seconds before falling at the feet of Johnson who fired into the bottom right-hand corner to put the Little Giants a goal up. At the half, Wabash led 1-0.
But Kenyon were certainly not going to take a defeat lying down, and in the second half the tide shifted in their favor. The Little Giants were unable to attempt a single shot in the second period as the Lords thoroughly dominated possession. Wabash goalkeeper Michael Bertram ’23 was called on several times to make important stops, but he could do nothing about Johan Johannsson’s 58th minute header from a Kenyon free kick to level the match.
With the score at the end of regulation time at 1-1, the game headed to overtime. In the added period, Kenyon’s stamina shone through as the Little Giants attempted to stumble to the finish line. While nothing much happened in the first period, Kenyon were very clearly on top. It was, then, only a matter of time before the Lords scored the winner, as they did in the 102nd minute. Once again from a free kick, Wabash allowed Sebastian Gaese space enough to get a shot away and win the game for Kenyon.
The mood among the Wabash camp after the game was solemn, but midfielder Adam Berg ’22 tried to see the positives. “We need to take the disappointment we’re feeling after the loss today and move onto the next game,” said Berg. “If we don’t, we won’t be here in November [for the playoffs]. That’s a feeling none of us want to have.
“One takeaway from today is that sticking to the game plan pays off. We knew that Kenyon likes to push men forward and that the counterattack was on, so when we won the ball and got the first pass, we were able to expose their center backs. That ultimately led to our goal, but it’s unfortunate we gave up two on set pieces. We’re getting the chances, we’re getting shots on goal, and it’s just about capitalizing on those chances. So, I’m confident that if we can continue doing what we’re doing, we don’t have to change anything. If we keep looking at the next game the goals will come.”
It wouldn’t be long before Wabash got another chance to prove themselves, and they did not disappoint. Travelling to Wittenberg on Tuesday night, the team no doubt had Saturday’s disappointment in mind. However, if sticking to the game plan was what this team needed, they more than exceeded themselves as they trounced home to a 3-0 victory.
The Little Giants looked in control the entire game and pulled off six shots in the opening thirty minutes, but to no avail. The scoring finally opened on the 31st minute when midfielder Jerry Little ’24 bagged his first career goal from a Johnson assist. The Tigers offered no response, and the Little Giants went into the half a goal to the good. The second half was much of the same with Wabash completely outplaying the deflated Wittenberg. The star of the second period was undoubtedly Tim Herring ’22 who, at the 66th and 73rd minute mark, scored a brace that made the final score Wabash 3-0 Wittenberg.
Looking ahead to Wabash’s upcoming fixtures, the team tomorrow travels to Delaware, Ohio to face off against Ohio Wesleyan University (11- 1-2, 5-1 NCAC). The Battling Bishops are currently second in the conference standings, five points ahead of Wabash who sits in fourth place. A rivalry matchup versus DePauw (9-6-0, 3-3 NCAC) still looms for Wabash. The Tigers visit Fischer Field on October 27 with the match kicking off at 4 p.m. in front of what should be a bumper crowd.