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College Soccer | MACU men's soccer making strides this season

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Emory & Henry's Jackson Kaze (center) attempts to split Mid-Atlantic Christian defenders Brandon Beltron (left) and Jonathan Langley (right) during the men's soccer game, Sunday September 15, 2019 at MACU.

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By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Monday, September 16, 2019

The 2019 men’s soccer season has seen the Mid-Atlantic Christian program make improvements.

Since 2015, it was a routine occurrence for the Mustangs to suffer double-digit losses.

This season, the Mustangs have been competitive along with making program history.

MACU finished a three match in three day stretch Sunday afternoon with a 5-0 loss to Emory & Henry College at MACU.

During the three-match stretch, MACU (2-5) secured its first home victory in program history with a 3-2 result against Patrick Henry College Saturday.

Sunday’s match against the Wasps concluded the stretch.

MACU head men’s soccer coach Ascencion Gomez noted that the matches were an opportunity for his team to learn and play quality teams.

Ferrum College, who MACU lost to Friday, is an NCAA Division III program along with Emory & Henry.

Patrick Henry College is a USCAA program just like MACU.

“The idea was to get them to see how other teams play,” Gomez said.

The Mustangs battled with the Wasps Sunday.

Emory & Henry took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Casey Widdifield in the 15th minute.

The Wasps added their second goal on a strike from Ryan Boyette to the lower right corner of the goal, which beat MACU goalkeeper Noah Jarman to give the Wasps a 2-0 lead in the 35th minute.

The match would go to halftime with Emory & Henry holding a 2-0 lead.

The Wasps maintained possession of the ball for most of the second half.

Jeff Hurlock scored a goal in the 46th minute within a few yards of the goal to increase the lead to 3-0.

Jonathan Hoyte scored in the 59th minute and Boyette scored his second goal of the match off a free kick just outside the 18-yard box.

Boyette’s free kick went past the MACU wall to the lower left of the goal to give the Wasps a 5-0 advantage.

MACU had a few chances on goal, but could not capitalize.

Jarman made his share of saves during the match.

Gomez noted that one of the keys to MACU’s improvement this season has been building relationships.

The coach added MACU also has to depend on using students from school’s population to build a roster.

Former MACU men’s basketball player Alex Stanley along with female athletes Allison Hackett, Raquel Bowen, Amanda Lemons and Kayla Wellbrock are on the roster.

Gomez noted that team camaraderie is important.

“These kids support each other,” Gomez said. “That in turn will attract kids to play here.”

The coach also noted the importance of having female players on the roster this season.

“I would love to have an all-woman’s team because these young ladies are all heart,” Gomez said. “They are supporting us.”

Gomez noted that both the men and women on the team are giving effort, but the women on the team have to give a little bit more effort to keep up with the men.

The success for MACU began Aug. 31 when the Mustangs defeated USCAA opponent Penn State York 8-2 on the road.

The result was MACU’s first win in program history.

Gomez noted that the win at York let the team know that it can be successful, while the win Saturday proved that MACU can sustain winning.

Noah Bryant, a sophomore forward, has been key in MACU’s success this season as he is one of the team’s top goal scorers.

“If he is on, the team is on,” Gomez said of Bryant. “If he’s off, the team is off.”

Gomez noted that he wants the team to continue to build on what it has already accomplished while maintaining camaraderie this season.

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