Defeating NESCAC rival Bowdoin for the third straight time and second in a row on the road by a two-goal margin, Wesleyan got two goals and an assist from Chris Kafina '16 (#2, main photo) along with an eight-save effort from Emmett McConnell '15 (#30, photo insert lower right) in his first career start, en route to a 3-1 victory Sat., Sept. 7. For his performance, Kafina was recognized as NESCAC Player of the Week.
Kafina got things started for the Cardinals, who scored all three goals on headers in close, by heading in a long serve by Brandon Sousa '16 from the left side as he stood near the right post. That came in the fourth minute, giving Wesleyan to lead for good. Wesleyan carried that margin into halftime and despite being outshot, 18-10, over the course of the contest, the Cardinals added second-half goals in the 61st minute by Charlie Gruner '17 and Kafina in the 77th minute. Kafina had the primary assist on Gruner's goal, also at the right post, as Kafina tracked down a cross by Dylan Hoy '17 deep on the left and sent the ball across the goal to Gruner. Hoy also received an assist on the play. Kafina then took a serve from Nate Howell '14 from the right side to the left post, and deposited a header into the net for a 3-0 Wesleyan lead.
With eight saves through the opening 86 minutes, McConnell had a shutout going before a breakway by Bowdoin broke the ice with 3:57 to play. Bowdoin had quite a few good scoring chances in the contest, and either narrowly missed the net, had a shot blocked and cleared, or got robbed by a strong play by McConnell.
Wesleyan returned to action Sat., Sept. 14, hosting Wheaton in a non-conference matchup. Coming into the game, Wesleyan and Wheaton had met nine times in men's soccer with neither team scoring more than two goals in a game and with all wins decided by just one goal. This time Wheaton captured a 3-1 decision. The two-goal margin and three-goal total by Wheaton snapped the string. It did, however, extend the fact that the home team is the underdog as Wesleyan is now 1-3-1 vs. Wheaton in five games in Middletown while Wheaton is 2-3 at home vs. Wesleyan. Wheaton now leads the series, 5-4-1.
Wheaton netted a pair of long-range goals just inside the left post, one in the 23rd minute and the second in the 35th minute. A header off a restart in the 50th minute spotted the visitors a 3-0 lead. Wesleyan averted a shutout, also a normal occurrence in Wesleyan-Wheaton matchups as six of the previous nine games featured a shutout, when top scorer Kafina finished off a Wesleyan free-kick situation started by Brandon Sousa '15. Sousa sent the ball into the box from long range and Wheaton got a touch but failed to clear. Gruner collected the ball for Wesleyan on the right and found Kafina alone in front of the left post for an easy score from six yards away. It was Kafina's third tally of the season.
Wheaton had a 14-11 edge in total shots, using a 10-2 margin in the first half to take control of the outcome.
Wesleyan is back in action Tues., Sept. 17, hosting NESCAC rival Tufts in a game slated for a webcast. The game can be viewed by clicking < here >.