Men’s soccer is back in non-conference action with a road trip to Gannon
Wheeling, WV – Since the start of Mountain East Conference (MEC) play, the Wheeling University men’s soccer team (2-3-1, 2-2-1) has enjoyed success in start of the season by clinging to 4th place in the conference. On Saturday, they will face one of their toughest tests of the season as they hit the road to take on the #6 Atlantic Region team at Gannon University. This will be the last non-conference test of the season for the Cardinals as they try to show they can compete with one of the best teams in the region.
In their last match, they faced the side ranked two places below Gannon at Notre Dame College and lost 3-0. The Cardinals held the Falcons at bay throughout the first half, conceding just one goal in the 20th minute of the game before the teams headed to the locker room. In the second half, the Cardinals created more chances, only trailing 7-3 but still couldn’t find the net. The Falcons scored two more goals in that second half and took the game to its final score of 3-0.
Despite the loss, the Cardinals got another solid effort from their pair of goaltenders who took to the field and kept their streak alive by allowing three or fewer goals each game. Flemming Sandt started and made six saves on nine shots faced while playing just over 71 minutes in goal. Five of those six games came in the first half of the game, including three saves after Notre Dame’s goal that made it a one-goal game. austin aaron came on to play the game final at 6:55 p.m. and did not face a shot on goal during that time. Wheeling goaltenders are averaging 1.67 goals against this season and have a combined save percentage of .655.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Cardinals are looking to find their rhythm and have been led by Diego Buenano and Richard Afolayanka. Buenano has found his footing lately, scoring a goal in two of the last three games in big storylines. Afolayanka is right there with him with two goals, coming against West Virginia Wesleyan and Alderson Broaddus and has been a leader for offense. With other attackers Harry Martin, Michael Martinand Christian Ruud gaining more experience with each other, they each try to elevate each other’s game and put Wheeling back on the scoreboard.
With conference play in full swing, the Cardinals are currently in a good position, clinging to fourth place in the conference. They are currently a game and a half ahead of West Virginia Wesleyan, but have tough tasks ahead as they still have Charleston and Davis & Elkins to play this season. Saturday’s game will be a good yardstick for the team as they see how they stack up against an Atlantic ranked opponent. They are looking to create more opportunities up front and set themselves up for success ahead of their rivalry game on Wednesday.
The Cardinals and Golden Knights will meet for the ninth time in program history on Saturday, with Wheeling holding the all-time series record at 5-4. However, on the road it was a different story with Gannon winning three of the four meetings between the two teams in Erie, Pennsylvania. The teams have split each of the past seven meetings, with the last victory going to Gannon in a 2-0 affair at Bishop Schmitt Field last season.
Christian Ruud led the Cardinals in that game taking three shots, one on goal, while Michael Martin and Hugo Rodriguez each finished with two shots on goal. former cardinal Harry Firth would start the game in net and made five saves on seven shots faced throughout the night. Wheeling will be looking for its first win against the Golden Knights since the 2013 season when they beat them 3-1 at Wheeling.
Saturday night’s game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at McConnell Family Stadium on the campus of Gannon University. You can watch the game live by clicking HERE or follow live statistics by clicking on HERE.