Men’s soccer continues stellar season start

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The SVSU men’s soccer team topped Ashland and Davenport last week, improving its record to 7-1-3 on the season.

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, the Cardinals won an overtime thriller against Ashland after going a goal down just seven minutes in.

Junior forward Azaad Liadi’s two goals, one of which was the overtime winner, were enough to propel the Cardinals to victory over the Eagles, who have won just two games all season.

“Our whole team working hard set the tone for me to have a big game,” Liadi said. “So, I’m just glad I could do my part in helping the team win the game.”

Justin Libertowski’s seventh-minute goal was just the fifth that the SVSU defense has allowed all season, and it put the Cardinals at an early disadvantage. The half continued with SVSU pouring on shot after shot, outshooting the Eagles 13-3 in the opening 45 minutes of the match.

“Going a goal down against Ashland was the catalyst for us to rapidly improve our performance as well as our overall effort,” head coach Andy Wagstaff said. “We started flat and didn’t play with much energy, so the goal actually challenged us to really step up, and we did.”

However, it wasn’t until early in the second half that sophomore midfielder Alex Gloshen connected with Liadi, who found the back of the net to tie the game at one goal apiece.

After a combination with Gloshen, Liadi found himself one-on-one with an Eagle defender, switched the ball onto his left foot, and buried the goal to tie the match.

After the equalizing goal, SVSU’s offense continued to pressure Ashland, outshooting the Eagles 11-2 in the second half. However, goalkeeper Dimitrius Karousos and the AU defense held strong and forced the Cardinals to settle for overtime.

Right off the whistle in overtime, SVSU was back on the attack. Liadi’s winning goal came when freshman midfielder Joe Wright found freshman forward Ryan Pierson, who glided past a pair of defenders and found Liadi at the top of the box. Liadi then slipped a defender and slid into the bottom corner of the box, netting the shot and giving the Cardinals the win.

“I had missed a chance toward the end of regulation,” Liadi said. “For that reason, I put it on myself that I needed to be the difference in overtime.”

On Friday, Oct. 5, SVSU collected its second win over Davenport on the season. Freshman goalkeeper Lukas Betz saved all five of the Panthers’ shots on goal en route to SVSU’s sixth clean sheet of the season and a 2-0 win.

“(Friday) against Davenport was another hard battle,” Wagstaff said. “They are a very good team, so it was important to get up on them early because we knew they would come on strong. A lot of young players played huge roles (Friday). At one point, we had seven freshmen on the field, so these experiences are only going to help us in the future.”

Gloshen’s pair of assists, one to sophomore forward Michael Hamilton in the first half and the other to freshman midfielder Brady Walker in the second, were the difference in the contest.

“It felt great to get another win against Davenport,” Gloshen said. “I thought overall as a team we played very well, especially for a 30-minute stretch in the first half, which led to the first goal. When it comes to getting assists, I just love being able to help the team, but without my teammates scoring the goals, it doesn’t mean anything.”

The team also had a third game of the week on Sunday, Oct. 7 against Purdue Northwest.

The match was still underway when The Valley Vanguard went to press.

Next weekend, the team travels north for a date with Northern Michigan, whom the Cardinals drew with earlier this season. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12. SVSU then travels to rival Northwood on Sunday, Oct. 14.