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Men's Soccer Loses to Clark

By Dan Wang
Staff Reporter

On Saturday, the men's soccer team lost a close game to Clark University, 2-1, at Steinbrenner Stadium. The Engineers seemed to have control throughout most of the game, but lost it in the late part of the second half, in a game which featured skillful ball-handling, rough playing, and some poor officiating.

Both sides played at a fast pace from the outset of the game, and continued doing so for most of the first half. The teams frequently traded offensive and defensive roles, with MIT spending slightly more time on the attack. But neither team was able to score, despite many opportunities. Most of the time, the ball either landed outside of the goal, or within reach of the goalies.

At halftime, neither team had score. Both teams were unable to penetrate their opponent's defense, as both Clark and MIT took only three shots on goal. MIT goalie Raja Jindal '95 made only one save (the other shots missed the goal), one fewer than the two Clark saves.

MIT seemed to show control throughout the early part of the second half. Most of the time was spent in offense, with the help of the defense to change the direction of the ball. However, the team still had trouble scoring, even sending three shots over the top of the Clark goal. With 28 minutes, 42 seconds left in the game, MIT took the lead, 1-0, with a goal by Andres Villaquiran '97 on an assist by Attila Lengyel '94.

The offense continued to press hard after the goal was scored, but to no avail. In the effort to wrest control of the ball, both sides played even rougher than in the first half. Both teams' players tripped, tackled, pushed, and fell many times.

The intensity caused the referees to issue a yellow card, for serious infractions, to both an MIT player and a Clark player during the second half. Even the Clark goalie was involved, as he toppled Jason Grapski '94 with 27:52 left in the game. He did not receive a penalty for this action, which angered many of the MIT players on the sidelines.

Things turned around for Clark in the last quarter of the game. Clark evened the score at 1-1 with 13:19 left. After a long punt by the goalie passed the MIT defenders, a charging Clark player took the ball and easily scored.

After that goal, Clark continued to play on the offense, and after several misses, the same Clark player scored again at 6:40. This time, he received the ball slightly ahead of mid-field, and ran the remaining length of the field before kicking the ball out of reach of Jindal.

With time running out, MIT still made desperate attempts to tie the score. Even with less than two minutes left in the game, the offense drove hard toward the Clark goal. The attacking MIT players spent the closing seconds trying to score, but both passes and shots were off-target. In that last-minute play, the inability to score was as evident as it was in the entire game.

With the exception of the two goals allowed, Jindal performed rather well throughout the game, and played for its duration. He made seven saves, which included some close calls for the opponent, and was able to quickly move the ball out of MIT's half of the field many times.

On the team's performance in the game, coach Walter Alessi said that, "They played well enough to lose." He also commented that MIT controlled most of the game and had chances to score, but just could not put the ball in the goal. Many of the scoring opportunities could not be converted, because of offsides calls and shots that simply missed the goal.

The game ended a busy week for the Engineers. On Tuesday, they lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Tufts University. On Thursday, they rebounded to shut out Curry College, 3-0, despite a sub-par performance. Rainfall hours before that game made a wet playing field, which produced much slipping and sliding, and many disagreeable calls by the referees.

The team concludes its season this week, with two more games. Yesterday, it played Gordon College at MIT. The season finale will take place Saturday at 2:30 p.m., at home, against the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.