HARRISONBURG, VA — The Randolph College men's soccer team saw its program-high win streak of eight come to an end Saturday evening, as Eastern Mennonite University handed the WildCats their first loss of the 2011 season with a 2-1 defeat in Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) play from the EMU Turf Field.
The game was emotionally charged from the get go, as the boisterous crowd of more than 500 saw a contest that featured 31 fouls and four yellow cards. Unfortunately for the WildCats, 22 of those 31 fouls and all four of the cautions were called on Randolph (8-1/1-1 ODAC).
Randolph College struck early in the contest on a lovely goal by Jacob Hood (New Market, MD/Linganore) . In the outing's eighth minute, Nick Cornell (Front Royal, VA/Warren Co.) placed a perfect ball from 30 yards out on the left sideline right to Hood's head, who flicked the pass past the EMU keeper for the initial lead.
Shortly after that, sophomore Corey Sindle (Gloucester, VA/Gloucester) was sent in on a breakaway, and his attempt at chipping the charging keeper missed putting Randolph up 2-0 by only inches.
The hosts would start to dictate the game though, playing very physical against the young WildCats. Sophomore Carter Smith (Greensboro, NC/Grimsley) made two big saves and snuffed out many services in the early going. EMU pulled even though in the 30th minute, as Brent Yoder headed a corner kick from Kevin Chico off the post and in to knot the game at one.
Right before halftime, the WildCats committed a foul and a quick restart ended up with a goal scoring opportunity for the Royals (5-4-1/3-0 ODAC). EMU's top scorer Mitchell Leap took advantage of Smith coming out to cut off Leap, but he was able to dribble by Smith and sneak it in past the defender who was occupying the net to put Eastern Mennonite up 2-1.
In the second half, neither team could score but the game continued to be exciting to watch. After a foul by EMU for colliding into the keeper, Smith took exception to the contact and pushed an EMU attacker, earning himself a caution.
Randolph had possibly its best chance of the second half at 67:10, as Jacob Lusczek (Fredericksburg, VA/Chancellor) broke in alone but EMU keeper Patrick Fox made a lunging save to keep the score 2-1. In the 78th minute, Celestin Kabamba (Woodbridge, VA/C.D. Hylton) had a chance but his left footed shot too was saved.
The Royals would retreat to play many of their players behind the ball, and were able to play balls forward and out of trouble over the last 10 minutes of regulation to earn their third ODAC win. Smith had five saves in the loss, only his second as a collegiate keeper.
EMU held an 18-12 shot advantage, while earning eight of the game's 12 corner kicks. Fox posted four saves in the win, while Leap's seventh goal of the year tied him for the league lead with Sindle.
The WildCats will look to get back in the win column Tuesday evening with another crucial ODAC contest, this time hosting the Tigers of Hampden-Sydney College at 7 p.m. in WildCat Stadium.