New players step up for Owls in junior midfielder Cody Calafiore’s absence.
Playing without its leading goal scorer, the men’s soccer team split its two games during the weekend at the Steston University Soccer Classic in DeLand, Fla.
Junior midfielder Cody Calafiore suffered an ankle injury last Sunday against Brown and will be out the next two to three weeks. Calafiore had scored three goals in the season’s first three games. Along with Calafiore, the Owls are without injured freshman midfielder Zach Arch and sophomore defender Drayt Friedman.
Starting for Calafiore during the weekend were freshman midfielders Mitchell Skrabacz and Willie Chalfant.
“I think we miss the athleticism of [Calafiore] and getting forwards,” coach Dave MacWilliams said. “It changes what we can do offensively. I think it definitely hurts us.”
On Sunday, Stetson sophomore midfielder Steven Saballos provided all the scoring the Hatters would need with an unassisted goal in the 35th minute. The Owls’ sophomore keeper Bobby Rosato finished with eight saves. MacWilliams said the Owls had chances to score early in the game but were unable to capitalize.
“That’s soccer. If you don’t finish your chances, it comes back to hurt you,” MacWilliams said. “It changes the complexion of the game when you don’t finish those chances.”
On Friday, the Owls knocked off Jacksonville, 3-2, behind a late save from Rosato and the first goal of the season by senior midfielder Tyler Witmer.
“I’m not happy that we gave up three goals in two games,” MacWilliams said. “We have to do a better job both defensively and in the net to be quite honest. You’re not going to win too many games giving up that many goals. We have to keep the score sheet clean.”
The Owls scored three quick goals in the first half, including Witmer’s header in the fourth minute to open the scoring. The senior said the goal helped his confidence and it felt good to get the first one out of the way.
“We’re spreading the goals out throughout the team,” Witmer said. “I wouldn’t say that I need to score a lot of goals, but as a team I think I need to step up and help lead the team.”
He received a floating cross from junior midfielder Matt MacWilliams and leaped in the air to head it past the goalies blindside on the near post. Last season, Witmer lead the Owls with five goals.
In the second half, Jacksonville dominated possession as the Dolphins attempted eight corner kicks and 13 shots in the half. They broke through in the 54th minute as senior midfielder Stefan Durr found the net. Twenty-five minutes later, Dolphins’ freshman midfielder Henrik Synnes added another goal.
After allowing two goals in the second half, Rosato buckled down in the 88th minute with the Owls clinging to a one-goal advantage. The sophomore made a key save out of a scramble in front of the net as the Dolphins’ attack was pressing.
This weekend the Owls will play in their third straight weekend tournament as they host Long Island and Stony Brook at Ambler. The consistent scheduling of weekend games helps prepare the Owls for the Atlantic Ten Conference schedule as the weekend dates will primarily be the same. Also, MacWilliams pointed to the strength of the opponents the Owls have faced in their non-league schedule.
Matt Breen can be reached at email@example.com.