A lot can change with one win. On Sept.10, men’s soccer capped off a week highlighted by the suspensions of six senior players and two assistant coaches with its most lopsided loss since 2012. That loss extended the team’s winless streak to five games, a drought the team had not seen since 2005.
Chapman broke that streak Sept. 13, notching its first win of the season against the University of La Verne, the same team Chapman beat in the conference semifinals last season. This season’s 1-0 win came courtesy of a goal from one of the seniors returning from suspension, defender Kannon Kuhn, who put away the game-winner with less than 12 minutes to go.
“It feels great to be back,” Kuhn said. “We were missing it like crazy, so it feels good to be back on the field and have things back to normal.”
Head coach Eddie Carrillo said he understood the importance of the result.
“We needed the win,” Carrillo said. “They (the suspended seniors) did well and it certainly helped us.”
Chapman (10-4-2, third in the conference last year) was much stronger offensively than La Verne (11-4-1, second in the conference last year), outshooting them 20 to 6 – including two chances that hit the posts. Carrillo said that Chapman struggled to score because of La Verne’s defensive style of play.
“All they do is defend,” Carrillo said. “They just dropped back and defended almost the whole first half. So it’s hard to say how good they were because they seem to always play that way. They didn’t really come out and play straight up.”
Despite Chapman’s statistical advantage, La Verne had two clear goalscoring opportunities in the second half when Chapman’s defensive line found itself exposed.
The first came in the 69th minute, when La Verne sophomore forward Jack Kolodge hit a low shot across the left side of the 18-yard box, hitting the right post. The ball rebounded to the feet of La Verne senior midfielder Auden Foxe, who put the close-range shot over the bar, causing several La Verne players to put their heads in their hands.
“It was definitely a big relief,” Kuhn said. “That’s something (where) you make one little mistake and they can get a chance like that. To see them not take advantage of that chance was definitely really relieving because we felt we deserved to win the game. We were glad we had a little bit of luck on our side with that.”
The second chance came in the dying seconds of the game, from a counterattack that made its way from La Verne’s 18-yard box down to Chapman’s penalty area, forcing a save from newly reinstated senior goalkeeper Sean Augustine.
“They actually got the one chance because one of our players didn’t take the ball just to the corner to kill the time and he chose to cross the ball,” Carrillo said. “We made a little bit of a tactical error.”
Carrillo said the mistake was part of the game.
“I don’t know if we can eliminate those tactical errors – it is what it is,” Carrillo said. “They’re going to make mistakes. We had a little bit of luck tonight, so that was nice.”
Chapman plays its next game at 7 p.m. Sept 16, when it visits Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Senior midfielder Elliott Braund – the only unsuspended senior who took part in Chapman’s past three games – said the win showed the team starting to play closer to its potential, but left room for improvement.
“It’s a relief, it’s always good to get that first win,” Braund said. “But we’re still behind where we should be in the conference, and that’s something that we expect to change as we get more games under our belt.”