Left: UMSL Midfielder DJ Bednar (Junior Engineering Major) celebrates after netting the lone goal of the match (Courtesy of David Tocco/The Current)
By David Tocco, Staff Writer
Despite the threat of storms, Friday evening was a beautiful one for a soccer match with mild temperatures and no precipitation. The University of Missouri—St. Louis’ men’s soccer team outplayed and showed much more integrity than their opponents, the Pumas of St. Joseph’s College (SJC). The game began at 6:30 p.m., an hour earlier than originally scheduled as a precautionary measure, since rain was predicted later in the evening. However, while storms would not come from the sky, they would certainly be seen on the field as a disgruntled Puma team reacted disgracefully to UMSL’s field domination.
The first 15 minutes of play were relatively even, with both teams exercising good ball control and defenders from each side preventing any scoring chances. About 27 minutes in, the Tritons narrowly escaped going down a goal as SJC had its only real scoring opportunity of the game. The Tritons reacted, narrowly missing a header goal at 25:50 following an indirect kick deep in Puma territory. The teams started to feel each other out, and the Pumas began to play more aggressively, committing many fouls. With just under 20 minutes to play in the first half, UMSL nearly scored again, but the shot went wide of the goal.
The tide began to turn in UMSL’s favor, as their passes were more effective in creating good scoring chances. The Pumas were clearly outmatched and became frantic. With two minutes remaining in the first half, referee Mark Rutherford decided he had seen enough of SJC’s dirty antics and pulled a red card on Puma freshman Midfielder Gage Jensen, ejecting him from the game and forcing his team into a one man disadvantage for the remainder of the match. The first half ended scoreless, but it was clear that for the Pumas to avoid defeat, they would need a miracle—especially since they would play the remainder of the game short-handed.
Lightning could be seen in the distance just prior to the beginning of the second half, reminding the spectators of the looming storms. The Tritons started out very strong with a scoring chance just two minutes in and again 10 minutes later. Dan King, UMSL’s head coach of 15 years, could be heard on the sidelines expressing frustration that his team had failed to net a goal even with the many golden opportunities.
Finally, with about 16 minutes to play, teammate Clay Stocker, junior, accounting, assisted UMSL midfielder DJ Bednar, junior, electrical engineering, in netting his second goal of the season, beating SJC’s vocal keeper as he came out to challenge him. The crowd erupted with joy. Shortly thereafter, the Pumas decided to take revenge with a hard foul, which resulted in a yellow card. As time ticked down, the Tritons retained possession and complete control of the game, not allowing the Pumas any scoring opportunities. The SJC frustration continued, as Puma players used especially unsportsmanlike tactics, spiking the unprotected back of Triton players’ legs when the referees were not looking. But if the Pumas were trying to start a fight, they failed, and the Tritons went on to win their second home game in a row, improving their record to 3-2 (2-1 GLVC).
Afterwards, game winning goal scorer DJ Bednar commented on the hostile play of his team’s opponents, saying, “I feel like we did well to keep our heads and not pick up any yellow cards at home.” In reference to a particularly aggressive incident near the end of the match, Coach King said, “It should have been a red card. I thought our guys did a good job of not taking retaliation on it.” Asked about Bednar’s goal, King said, “That goal comes right from practice. I thought it was a terrific goal.”
After another home match on Sunday vs. the University of Indianapolis, the Tritons take to the road against Wisconsin Parkside in Kenosha, Wisconsin, next Friday at 3:30 p.m.
Triton notables and statistics:
-Jon Huelsman, Junior, Physical Education, and Richie Hoffman, Senior, Accounting, each took two shots on goal.
-Goalkeeper Jack Filla, Junior, History, made two saves and played the entirety of the match.
-UMSL outshot SJC 9-5.