Taylor men’s soccer suffered a tough loss Friday night against Lawrence Technological University. The 2-0 loss was the Trojan’s third of the season.
From the start of the game Taylor found themselves at a disadvantage as senior midfielder Peter Linn, who had started all eight games on the season, sat the game out due to penalties received in the previous matchup against Trinity Christian College.
Without Linn’s presence in the midfield, Lawrence Tech found little difficulty in controlling the ball and keeping Taylor from generating any attack. The Trojans had a chance to open up an early 1-0 lead in the 10th minute of the first half, but the shot from senior Josiah Wieland missed. Taylor would go the rest of the half without attempting a shot.
Head Coach Gary Ross saw the missed shot as a crucial moment in the contest.
“If we score there, early on in the match, it’s a different game,” Ross said.
Without the early goal, the Trojans were forced to play catch-up with Lawrence Tech’s pressure.
Despite a strong effort from the backline and an impressive amount of saves from senior goalkeeper Luke Williams, who ranks 11th in the NAIA in total saves, Lawrence Tech broke through with six minutes left in the half.
Ross saw a lot of positives from the way Taylor defended throughout the game.
“I’d say the backline was the biggest strength of the game,” Ross said. “They bent but they didn’t break.”
Even with the constant attack from the Lawrence Tech offense, Taylor’s stout defense kept them in the match going into the second half.
The Trojans held them off the board for the first 23 minutes of the second half, but when the Lawrence Tech offense finally broke through in the 24th minute, Taylor found themselves in a 2-0 hole without much time to make up the deficit.
Senior defender Mikey Maloney saw similar positives as Ross.
“Our backline can come away knowing we got pressed all game,” Maloney said. “Despite the fact we didn’t play well as a team, the backline played well.”
Maloney said it was hard for the Trojans to generate attacks due to the backline having to clear balls instead of having time to control the ball and start a counter and push upfield. He also was surprised by how aggressive Lawrence Tech was early in the game with their press.
Even with the setback, the Taylor men’s soccer team feels good about where they are. Losing to Lawrence Tech — who returned a large part of a team that won their conference last year — 2-0 without a starting midfielder isn’t a season-defining loss.
Maloney saw an aggressive and hungry team in Lawrence Tech that was still beatable.
“I think a lot of it was on us. It wasn’t necessarily because they were playing well, but a lot of it was on us because we had to adjust.” Maloney said.
Conference season gives the 4-4-2 Trojans a chance to put the pieces together and both Ross and Maloney see a team on the verge of a breakout.
“We’ve lost a few players but we’ve seen some good things this year,” Ross said. “We’ve won two games with a man down. We tied the No. 4 team in the nation. These guys have fight, we just need to organize and shore up some things.”
Maloney added, “We have to take it game by game in conference. This year we have a winning record (going into conference) which is something I’ve never had. It gives us confidence. Culturally our team is better than it has been. We’ve been able to get on the same page. We’re right there.”
The Trojans fell to Spring Arbor University on Wednesday night 2-0, but once again the defense kept the game close against a tough opponent. Spring Arbor went into the game ranked 12th within the NAIA with only one loss on the season to this point. Taylor will aim to get back on track Saturday as they face conference foe Bethel at 7 p.m. in Mishawaka.