It didn’t take long for the Wilmington College men’s soccer team to gain an edge, and the Fightin’ Quakers defeated Albion, 3-1, Saturday in the final game of the 2016 Wilmington Kiwanis Classic on Townsend Field in Williams Stadium.
“They are a pretty good team and, on my scale, they are the best team we have played so far,” said Wilmington head coach Bud Lewis. “Not to take away from any other teams that we have played, but they knock it around and they have real strong athletes. We defended better and we are getting smarter, which you want to do. If you have some adversity, you want to learn from it.”
The Quakers, 2-1-1 on the year, played Mount St. Joseph to a 2-2 tie in Friday’s opening match of the Kiwanis Classic.
Wilmington took the lead it wouldn’t relinquish in the ninth minute as sophomore Niklas Martensson deposited a corner kick from sophomore Benny Spirk.
“I was really pleased with the corner kick,” said Lewis. “We have been close and that ball by Benny enabled Niklas to get high and it was a very convincing shot.”
Martensson was in the middle of WC’s second goal as he flicked a pass to freshman Carl Bergstrom in the 17th minute.
Holding on to the dangerous 2-nil lead, Wilmington made sure there would be no repeat from Friday’s outcome. Junior Grady Garrison combined with freshman Noah Wallis for a third goal. Wallis played the ball from near the corner flag to the far post, and Garrison was able to beat the keeper.
“In some respects, I think we relaxed a bit after getting the third goal, which is maybe how they ended up getting their goal,” said Lewis. “There is no question it’s very difficult to come back from a 3-0 deficit.”
Albion netted its only goal in the 62nd minute, but the goal seemed to refocus the Fightin’ Quaker defense, and the Britons didn’t get any closer.
Lewis singled out the play of the back line of junior Chris Bourque, junior Wes King and junior Nils Asteberg.
Wilmington (2-1-1) stays home 8 p.m. Wednesday, hosting Transylvania on Townsend Field at Williams Stadium.
On Friday, Wilmington led 2-0 but had to settle for the tie.
“We had the game in a good situation,” said Lewis. “This can be a cruel game sometimes because one interpretation of a play can change the game dramatically.
“The 2-nil lead is what they call a dangerous lead because one a team gets the first goal, they usually get a second and sometimes a third,” Lewis added.
Wilmington took an early lead as junior Wes King and freshman Noah Wallis combined on a beautiful goal.
King, who inserted into the game five minutes prior, raced from the back down the right sideline and centered the ball across the frame and Wallis headed the ball home for the game’s first goal.
The Fightin’ Quakers took the 2-0 lead by virtue of a free kick that freshman Gabriel Nygard played to the back post, and it was deposited past the keeper by freshman Tommy Logan.
The match was a rough and tumble affair as 50 fouls and six yellow cards were called over the 110 minutes of action.
“They are very, very physical team; probably the most physical team we will play all year long,” said Lewis. “They run through everything, meaning you have a lot of fouls and the chance of very serious injury – which takes away from the game.”
Both teams had a chance in the overtime sessions, but none better than MSJ’s with less that two minutes remaining.
A failed clear allowed the Lions to have an attempt one on one with senior keeper Nick Baker. However, Baker made a tremendous stop, smothering the ball and keeping the game knotted at two.
“Nick had some very important saves today,” said Lewis. “In overtime, it’s a golden goal, and Nick prevented that by himself. I was disappointed that the opportunity was created because we failed to clear the ball out the back, and the ball rebounded to their player standing alone in front, and Nick just made the play.”