The Rollins men’s soccer team claimed two victories last weekend to make it through the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament and into the Elite Eight.
On Friday, Nov. 12, the Tars landed a 1-0 victory in a thrilling match against West Florida. The Tars had early influence from Stephen Wright ’11, who took the only shot between both teams within the first 20 minutes of the match.
Though both teams tried hard to push through the midfield, it was Rollins who broke the deadlock with a terrific goal by Bradley Welch ’11 in the 25th minute. Throughout the rest of the first half, the Tars pushed for another goal but the Argonauts pushed back. The half ended 1-0 after Rollins took four shots on goal to West Florida’s one.
The second half kicked off with a newly invigorated West Florida, no doubt realizing the dire position the 11 were in entering the second half a goal down. Sixty-nine minutes into the match, the Argonauts brought a convincing shot that flew wide of Tars keeper Keneil Baker ’14, a reminder that they were not resigned to a loss just yet. Despite the renewed effort by West Florida, the Rollins defense held its ground and cleanly conveyed the ball back into the midfield for the Tars to regroup on offense. The Argonauts fought back until the final minute of the match, but were defeated 1-0 in the end, aft er Rollins took nine shots on goal to West Florida’s five.
On Sunday, Nov. 14, having defeated West Florida, the Rollins men met against Barry University in difficult matchup. Tars fans will remember that Barry defeated Rollins last year in this same position, a wound the Rollins men had not forgotten as they took the field.
The Tars strikers tested the Barry defense early in the match and found it to be as strong as it had been in previous encounters. Despite this, Wright took off on a wild run down the pitch, and beat the Barry keeper at the far post and sent the fans in the audience—many clad in their “Beat Barry” yellow tshirts— into an uproar.
The Rollins men remained keenly aware of Barry’s tendency for sneaking goals in with their strong forward line. The half ended with Rollins up 2-0, having taken nine shots on goal to Barry’s three.
Barry’s players struggled to claw their way back in the final minutes of the match, but they could not find their way through the energetic Tars. The match ended 3-1 to Rollins.
After the match, Coach Dr. Keith Buckley stated, “I’m really pleased for the players, they deserve it,” he said.
Michael Aronski ’11 had a message for Tar fans. “Come out and support us. We’ll appreciate it the whole time. You guys have been there for us since day one. We’ll hopefully make you proud,” he said.
Rollins will be in action again on Saturday, Nov. 20 at home against Clayton State at 7 p.m. as they push toward the Final Four in the tournament. Admission to this match is free for Rollins students, so come out to support the team!