Men’s Soccer Gets Big Win
October 13, 2011
Before every home game, junior Nate Smith (Hilton, NY/Hilton) makes sure to practice his flying header shots on the practice field adjacent to the Jephson Community Athletic Complex.
Smith calls the play, where he runs at a full sprint towards the goal and propels himself at the ball for a well-struck header attempt, his favorite play in all of soccer, and during Thursday night’s critical home game against North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) rival Wells College, Smith’s favorite play helped lead the Storm to a 2-1 win over the Express.
On a rain-drenched field, Keuka (7-3-1, 4-3 NEAC) had taken an early 1-0 lead on a goal from sophomore midfielder Frank Iacovangelo (Rochester, NY/Aquinas) in the 35th minute. The Express countered with the equalizer halfway through the second half before Smith and sophomore Nate Schreiber (Hilton, NY/Hilton) hooked up on Smith’s favorite play for the winning goal.
Schreiber played an accurate cross into Smith, who was making a full run from midfield towards the goal. Just like he practiced it, Smith left his feet, leapt into the pass and delivered a header that found the back of the net for his seventh score of the year with 15:27 remaining.
“That play is something I practice before every game and that’s something I love to do, lay out like that. Any chance I get to do it I give it a shot. I just love leaving my feet and going after a well-played ball like the one Nate played into me,” Smith said.
“I knew where he was going and he knew where I was going, and we made it happen. That was a perfect ball, it’s that Hilton connection. Nate and I have a lot of chemistry on the field.”
Iacovangelo’s goal staked the Storm to a 1-0. Smith shot on goal from six yards out, but Wells goalie David Kaus made the save. The ensuing loose ball found its way to Iacovangelo on the near post, who slid a shot inside the post for his first career goal at Keuka.
Defense and possession was the name of the game during a first half that featured plenty of rain but not too many solid scoring opportunities. In the 21st minute, the Express had a good look on goal when Delroy Roberts possessed the ball and ripped a shot from 18 yards out, but junior Derek Condon (Webster, NY/Webster Thomas) leapt for the save and deflected the shot to himself.
Condon, the reigning Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) and North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Defensive Player of the Week, made another heads-up save late in the half. Following a foul on Keuka, Roberts took a free kick from roughly 20 yards out, but Roberts’ shot sailed harmlessly into Condon’s hands for his eighth save of the half.
Wells kept up the offensive pressure to start the second half, but once again Condon came up with a big save. Wells’ Patrick Arancio blasted a shot from 15 yards out, but Condon leapt and punched the shot high over the crossbar, denying a good Wells scoring opportunity.
The teams would play a scoreless first 20 minutes of the second half until the Express (6-8, 3-4 NEAC) scored the equalizer with 24:44 to play off a scramble in front of the net. The score would remain tied for less than 10 minutes before Smith notched the eventual game-winning goal.
Condon finished with a career-high 16 saves for the Storm, which won despite being outshot 32-13, and 17-4 in the second half. Keuka’s defense of junior Reis Cunningham (Red Creek, NY/Red Creek), junior Justin Ryan (Dryden, NY/Dryden), sophomore Kyle Rivera (Horseheads, NY/Horseheads) and freshman John Bourgeois (Rochester, NY/Irondequoit) effectively limited Wells’ looks in the second half, particularly over the final 15 minutes as the Express was searching for the equalizer.
The Storm returns to action at 4 p.m. Monday afternoon with a non-conference game at Elmira College.
With just three NEAC games remaining, Keuka moved into sole possession of fifth place in the conference. The top five teams qualify for the postseason tournament, which runs Nov. 1-6.
“This win was huge, it was do or die tonight for us,” Smith said after Keuka earned its fifth home win in six games.
“We dropped a few conference games that we should have won or at least gotten some sort of result, but this was a must-have game. If we didn’t win this, our chances of going to the postseason tournament at the end of the season, we would have had to win out to make it. This was a huge game, huge for our team to win this.”