Howard Men's Soccer Team Promises Redemption This Season
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Following an undefeated pre-season, the Howard University soccer team kicked off its 2009 Soccer Season with back-to-back losses to George Mason University and George Washington University this past weekend, but the spirit of the Bison remains unshaken.
Howard lost its debut match of the season 2-1 to George Mason, but they outplayed and outmatched the Patriots during large spells of the match. The Patriots took a 1-0 first half lead in the 38th min. through Ryan Garcia (Rockville, MD), who beat Bison goalkeeper, Victor Thomas from the charity spot.
The second half was an uncompromising duel between two equally matched sides, more so after junior defender Matt Marshall of the Bison had gloriously tapped in Phillip Borde corner kick to level the scores at 1-1. After the equalizing goal, the Bison proved more imaginative than the Patriots and created some goal scoring opportunities. Jamil Devers, Lemuel Lyons, and Philip Borde all powered through the Patriots defense and attempted shots on goal that could have given the Bison the lead.
The Patriots Parker Walton had the game winner when he executed in the 86th min on a bison defensive error. Commendably, Goalkeeper Thomas saved 11 goal-bound shots and the Bison started three freshmen who brought new energy to the team: Philip Borde, Claudy St. Louis, and Anye Ngalla.
Coach Michael Lawrence was impressed with his team's performance and expressed great optimism for the season. "The team has come with a new attitude to do some great things this year. On the roster, we have nine freshmen and three transfer players. The addition of the new players has created a competitive environment where everyone understands that it's hard work to take Howard University soccer to the next level. We need more executions to get there," said Lawrence after the loss to the nationally ranked Patriots (#19) George Mason University. Mason is a very good team and it showed in the way they executed on the field.
The Bison played their second match of the season against the Colonials of George Washington University and lost 2-0. The Bison soccer team was inspired by their up-tempo, upbeat, and fascinating performance against the Patriots. In the match against the Colonials, the Bison dominated play in the first half, and held their ground well into the second half.
In the 63rd min., the Bison were questionably punished when defense player, Kareem Williams, accidentally tripped an opponent for his second book-able offense, and he was ejected from the match. The Colonials scored from the ensuing set-piece, a free-kick, to take 1-0 lead.
In spite of playing with a man down, the Bison staged relentless onslaughts on the goal area of the Colonials in an effort to get the equalizing goal. Lawrence switched from the traditional 4-3-3 formation to a more robust formation and pushed more players forward.
However, the disparity in numbers proved costly to the Bison, and the Colonials scored from an uncharacteristic counter attack in the 83rd min. to increase their lead to 2-0.
After the Colonials' second goal, the Bison kept probing for, at least, a consolation goal, which never came until the referee blew his whistle for proceedings to end. The Bison is two down, but Lawrence looked back and put his young season in perspective. "As compared to last season, the beginning of this season has given us more hope. Last season, we conceded 13 goals in our first two matches and didn't score any. This year, we only conceded four, including a penalty and scored one." The players are working hard and looking forward to their first win.
"The 12 new players have injected new life into the team to increase our competitive spirit. Down the stretch, I expect them to contribute significant minutes. I want to build the foundation of this team on solid ground. We will continue to be patient and work hard to achieve our goals and restore Howard University Men's Soccer as a national power."
The Bison will next take on Florida Atlantic University in Boca on Today at 5:00 pm (9-11-09) and will play Florida International in Miami on Sunday, 9-13. Watch out for the Bison this season.