By: Brendan Burris ~Staff Writer~
The beginning of the season for the Xavier men’s soccer team has been anything but quiet, with the opening two games offering plenty of excitement and much to look forward to for the rest of the season.
The Musketeers opened up their season at home on Aug. 26 against the Evansville Aces. Xavier won 3-1 in a marathon evening at the Xavier Soccer Complex, which included a near three-hour weather delay before the match even began. The contest was slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff but did not get started until about 10 p.m. Once play was under way, however, the two teams competed in a fast-paced and eventful matchup, both looking to get their non-conference schedule off to a hot start.
The Aces struck first after just 1:35, scoring off a set piece. However, the Musketeers regrouped well with Jalen Brown winning and converting a penalty in the 28th minute and freshmen Derrick Otim and Curtis Hansford recording their first collegiate goals to lead the Musketeers to a convincing victory. In the end, Xavier outshot Evansville 21-8 and improved to 3-2-2 in their last seven season-opening games.
Following the Evansville match was a road game against Alabama-Birmingham on Aug. 28, where the Musketeers again outshot their opponents 15-4 but simply could not find the back of the net, falling 2-0. Despite dropping to 1-1 on the season, there were plenty of positives in the game, which included a shot off the post and plenty of chances on goal in an early-season game. The road matchup also featured the debut of freshman goalie Zachary Nelson, who started and made a save in the contest.
The early part of this soccer season is proving to be tough for Coach Andy Fleming and the Musketeers, who now go on to take on the Virginia Cavaliers on the road and the Dartmouth Big Green at home before hosting UC in a crosstown matchup on Sept. 13. Both UVA and Dartmouth are top-25 ranked teams.
The men will play their next home game on Monday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. against Dartmouth.