Cox's Corner

 

Eagles Soccer Teams Are Off To Quick Starts This Season

BRIDGEWATER, Va. - The Bridgewater College women’s soccer team is piling up the goals and the result is a solid 4-2 start to the season.

The men’s soccer team has won four straight as the Eagles continue to find ways to win the close games.

Both teams are off to a good start this season and both are looking for more as they enter the gauntlet of ODAC competition.

The women’s team has been scoring at a torrid pace in the early season and that trend continued Wednesday in a 10-0 victory over Eastern Mennonite. The Eagles have now scored 32 goals in the first six games to rank No. 1 in the country in total goals scored.

Dynamic players at the offensive end and more depth are two of the reasons for the Eagles early-season scoring barrage. The Eagles have three of the top point producers in the conference so far this season. Melanie Waters leads the conference with 13 points, followed by Abby Dehoff with 12 and Krissy Snyder with 10.

The Eagles offense has produced at a high rate despite missing one its most dynamic players, sophomore Mari Marotta. Marotta, who led the Eagles with 11 assists a year ago, has played in just one game thus far this season.

“This is the deepest team we have ever had,” Bridgewater head coach Mike Van Horn said. “We have started 18 different players in the first six games and if it wasn’t for injuries, that number would probably be 20. There’s not a lot of drop off when we substitute.”

Van Horn also noted that his team is doing a much better job of possessing the ball this season when compared to years past. “When you are able to possess the ball, that leads to more opportunities at the offensive end. You hope that more opportunities will lead to more goals scored.”

The Eagles will look to remain on the winning side of the ledger Saturday when they travel to Guilford for another conference contest. The Quakers will be looking for their first win of the season.

The Bridgewater men’s team continued its strong early-season performances with a 3-1 victory on the road against Stevenson for the team’s fourth straight victory. The Stevenson contest was tied 0-0 in the 77th minute, but BC’s Kevin Gorman scored three goals in the next 11 minutes to lift the Eagles to the non-conference victory.

“Any time you are coming off a big win like we had over the weekend, I think you always worry about having a letdown of some sort,” head men’s soccer coach Ryan Bennison said. “I think that happened a little bit, but I think a win like the one we had at Stevenson helps your confidence. We know we didn’t play our best soccer, but we still found a way to win. That’s something you can build on and move forward with.”

Saturday offers up one of those “measuring stick” contests when the Eagles, ranked No. 9 in the current South Atlantic regional poll, open conference play against Randolph College, the preseason favorite to win the ODAC.

“This game will let us know where we are,” BC head coach Ryan Bennison said. “Randolph was picked No. 1 in the preseason poll and they deserved that recognition. They had a great season last year and they return a lot of players off that team. They have the ODAC Coach of the Year and the Player of the Year back. They are a very good team and we certainly have a lot of respect for what they have done.”

The WildCats are coming off a storybook season in 2011 when they won the ODAC tournament title after being picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the preseason poll. Randolph also made some noise in the postseason when they travelled to Christopher Newport for a first-round game and knocked off the No. 2 ranked Captains on their home turf. The WildCats added a win over DeSales before losing 2-1 in overtime in the Round of 16 to Texas-Tyler.

The WildCats, who return quality experience at several positions, are 2-2-1 against tough non-conference competition thus far this season.

Randolph is led by forward Corey Sindle, the 2011 ODAC Player of the Year. He is joined up front by second-team All-ODAC pick Nick Cornell. The defense is anchored by a pair of all-conference performers, Coulton Watson and Will Wolf, while Jacob Hood, another all-conference pick in 2011, patrols the midfield.

A year ago, Bridgewater and Randolph battled to a scoreless tie for the first 52 minutes before Randolph pulled away for a 3-0 victory. "In last year's game, Randolph responded in the second half and picked up the play. That's what good teams do."

“Our guys are excited about the opportunity,” Bennison continued. “We’re still moving forward and the guys are feeling good about the way they are playing. We need to approach the game in a humble and respectful way. Our goals are the same for every game. We want to work harder, play together and respond to adversity in a positive manner.”

Game time Saturday is set for 1 p.m. at the Eagles soccer field.