NEW LONDON, Conn.-The Coast Guard men's soccer team fell to intra-city rival Conn. College in a non-conference match-up on Tuesday night. With the loss, Coast Guard falls to 3-3-1 on the year while Conn. College improves to 4-1-2.
In what was the most physical game of the season for Coast Guard, the Bears were able to take everything that the Camels threw at them. The referee let the clubs play on as he wanted the clubs to settle the game on their own with their play, rather than with whistles.
The first break in the defense came in the eighth minute of the match when, following a Coast Guard turnover, junior Jonathan Ray deflected a ball away from freshman Ibrahim Mutala while fall on his back side. At the other end of the field, in the 11th minute, senior Max Nichols made a great save on a tremendous blast by Joe Bodzewski after the Conn. College defense parted.
Perhaps the best chance of the match came in the 19th minute when Conn. College freshman Weller Hlinomaz had a breakaway but was denied by junior goalkeeper Richie Burns, coming off his line to meet the oncoming attacker.
Coast Guard had a breakaway chance of their own in the 33rd minute after senior Matt Epperly played a beautiful ball ahead to sophomore Lukas Benedetto who had the ball kicked out on him before he was able to get a shot off. Following a rare foul in the 39th minute, Conn. College was given a free kick from 20 yards out, but sophomore Colin Patch's attempt was shot right into the waiting arms of Burns.
Tempers seemed to peak in the 48th minute following a yellow card to Mutala who had to be physically restrained by the referee.
Mutala would get Conn. on the board first in the 55th minute when he one-timed a ball from 12 yards out after taking a cross from Hlinomaz on the far side. Less than a minute later the Camels nearly made it 2-0 but junior Kevin O'Brien was called offside after streaking down the middle wide open after taking a pass from senior Billy Hawkey.
Hlinomaz nearly added another goal for Conn. in the 64th minute but his attempt was saved by Burns. He would not be denied on his next try, however. In the 67th minute he was able to connect following a short cross from junior Doug Garabedian who received a through ball from freshman Pat Devlin.
The 76th minute produced a highlight reel save for Burns - one of his five in the match - after he stopped a blistering shot from O'Brien who was very active in the second half. The shot came after he took a cross from O'Brien and those two would nearly hook up two minutes later but the shot went high.
Coast Guard's best chance to cut into the lead came in the 83rd minute when sophomore Lukas Benedetto had his shot from inside of 10 yards blocked by Patch. The Bears last gasp effort came in the 88th minute when the fourth yellow card of the match gave them a free kick from 25 yards out but Tarzian's shot was saved by Nichols, one of his six saves of the evening.
Bears' head coach Chris Parsons was pleased with his team's performance and effort, saying, "I thought the quality of play was high for both side and we did well playing physically. I thought that Jonathan Ray, Robert Chamberlain, and Matt Epperly were terrific for us tonight." He continued by saying, "Conn. is a good team, a dangerous team and it's nice to know we can compete against a team of that caliber."
"We did really well in the first five minutes of the second half, coming out of the break tied 0-0. I thought we had Conn. back on their feet but we just couldn't finish a chance."
Coast Guard will return to action on Saturday, September 28th when they host Clark in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference contest at 11:30 am as part of Parent's Weekend.