With five minutes left in the men’s soccer game on Oct. 20, Chapman junior midfielder Max Wilson came off the bench to score a winning goal. Wilson led Chapman to a 1-0 victory against the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech).
“Bench players always have to be ready. They’re a fresh pair of legs,” Wilson said. “Not necessarily the most skilled players, but they usually are the ones that work the hardest.”
Wilson’s work ethic as a scorer coming off the bench is commendable, said senior forward Kai Howe.
“Max is a very strong and fast player,” Howe said. “When he’s playing well, it’s a big asset for us.”
Coming off a four-game losing streak, the Panthers went into the matchup against Cal Tech hoping to keep their chances of making the playoffs alive. At this point in the season, a draw or a loss would take away their playoff chances.
Throughout the game, the Panthers stuck to a fast-paced offensive game plan, creating opportunities for their strikers, said Eddie Carrillo, head coach.
The offensive strategy, built around Howe, created several shots, but the Panthers were unable to score for most of the match.
With 21 minutes left in the second half, Howe attempted a header off of freshman defender Zack Matteoni’s lob. Cal Tech goalkeeper Joe Como remained on balance and was able to deflect the ball to the right side of the goal, keeping the game scoreless.
“I thought it was in,” Howe said. “When I hit it I thought it was pretty close to the goal … it was just one of those plays where it fell right to the goalie.”
Howe credits the team’s defenders for creating offensive opportunities and making critical stops in the midfield.
In particular, junior defender Connor McLane jostled Cal Tech’s strikers off stride and pushed the ball forward, helping Howe and the other forwards to make cleaner shots.
Early in the first half, McLane made a tackle which left an opposing striker with a bloody nose.
“I think it was a pretty clean tackle, we just got tangled up in the end,” McLane said. “When you have a physical game like this, there’s going to be some tension.”
Chapman finished the game with two yellow cards, one on senior midfielder Javier Bernaldo and the other on junior midfielder Ryan Onart.
Offensively, the team attempted 18 shots compared to Cal Tech’s eight attempts. In the last matchup against Caltech, the Panthers secured a 3-2 win in double overtime.
“We didn’t make as many mistakes as we did the last time we played (Caltech). That’s why we didn’t give up two goals,” said head coach Eddie Carrillo. “We weren’t thinking it was going to be a physical game.”
The Panthers play the University of LaVerne at 4 p.m. at home Oct. 24.