Daniel Issroff '15 (#15, right side photo) scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 22nd minute on a shot from inside the box that deflected off a Bowdoin defender and into the net to spot the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the team's opening game at Bowdoin Sat., Sept. 8. Seven minutes later, Issroff sent a corner kick to the front of the goal that Spencer Tanaka '15 deposited into the net in the 29th minute for a 2-0 Wesleyan lead. Goalie Adam Purdy '13 (#30, left side photo) did the rest along with the solid Wesleyan defense, making three saves for his 25th career shutout, an ongoing school record, for the 2-0 Cardinal triumph.
Up next for the Cardinals was a non-conference road game at Springfield Tues., Sept. 11. There Rory O'Neill '13 converted two first-half penalty shots and Wesleyan added another pair in the second half to roll to a 4-0 victory, equaling the greatest margin of victory by a Cardinal squad vs. Springfield in the 69 games played between the teams, dating back to 1926.
Wesleyan controlled the tempo comfortably in the first half at Bowdoin and held a 9-3 edge in total shots, but Bowdoin came on in the second half to play evenly in terms of shots, making it 17-12 in Wesleyan's favor for the game. Issroff had five of the Cardinals' 17 attempts. No other player in the game for either side had more than two shots.
Wesleyan defeated Bowdoin in Brunswick, Me. for the first time since 2007, having lost the last two meetings in Maine, both in 2010. Wesleyan took last year's tilt in Middletown, 3-2 in overtime, as the Cardinals are 6-3-1 vs. the Polar Bears in the last 10 meetings and stand 32-20-4 overall in the long-standing series between the NESCAC rivals.
At Springfield, Wesleyan appeared to get on the board in the 16th minute with an Issroff to Evan Hazelett '13 connection off a corner kick, but the official signaled a hand ball violation as the ball slipped into the goal and awarded Wesleyan a penalty kick instead. O'Neill made it 1-0 with a low shot to the left corner. In the 35th minute, a trip by Springfield in the box resulted in another O'Neill PK to the same side, but slightly higher, making it 2-0. In the second half, Issroff set up Hazelett for a marker in the 63rd minute, trapping the ball on the right side and centering to Hazelett. Just 1:17 later, a free kick by Brandon Sousa '16 found the head of Chris Kafina '16 in a crowd and gave the Cardinals a 4-0 bulge. The four goals equaled the most by Wesleyan against Springfield since 1964, accomplished both in 2003 (a 4-0 win) and 1991 (a 4-2 decision). The 1964 team took a 6-3 triumph, a year after Wesleyan won, 5-1, the one and only other time the Cardinals defeated the Pride by a four-goal differential.
Purdy needed to make just one save during his 79 minutes in net as Wesleyan generated a 23-9 edge in shots. Emmett McConnell '15 covered the net for the final 11 minutes.
Wesleyan opens the home slate Sat., Sept. 15 against Tufts, then completes its NESCAC weekend vs. Hamilton Sun., Sept. 16 in a game slated for a webcast.
(photos courtesy of Peter Stein '84)