Men’s soccer dominates “Clash of the Titans” tournament

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Eric Gilbert

 

The Illinois Wesleyan University men’s soccer team opened up their first home games in fashionable style this past weekend.  Saturday night will not only be remembered for its thrilling outcome, but on a personal level as well.

First-year head coach Kyle Schauls notched his first win as a Titan.  Despite a strong first half from the Titans, they found themselves in an all too familiar situation— trailing 1-0 only three minutes into the second half.

Morale remained high however, as they began to valiantly create offensive chances.  Junior defender Mitch Billimack appeared to have found the equalizer on a shot that tailed inches high of the crossbar.  Time was ticking faster than the Titans could count and another heartbreaking defeat was looming imminent.

With just under one minute remaining in the contest, senior defender Jared Krebs frantically threw the ball into the 18-year box.  Junior midfielder Carlo Fava flicked it laterally to a wide-open sophomore Eric Gilbert, who smashed it home for his first of the year.

With 39 seconds left in regular time, the Titans ferociously celebrated as the Pioneers of Wisconsin Platteville found themselves caught in a bad dream that they would never wake up from.  The momentum took a 360-degree turn in favor of the Titans who now seemed destined to run away with the victory in overtime.  Low-and-behold, one minute and 26 seconds was all it took for the Titans to seal their fate.  Senior captain Colin Rathe accelerated down the right wing and found the back of the net for his second of the year.  Ten seconds later Rathe lay at the bottom of a dog pile filled with ecstatic Titans.

“It was a great win for the team.  The way we fought back and played until the final whistle was something special.  It’s a very positive sign going forward,” said Rathe.

Rathe was spot on in that regard, as the Titans rolled to a 1-0 victory over Alma College less than 24 hours later.  In a contest that featured an array of chances, neither team seemed to be able to find the back of the net.

Strong combination play through the midfield led to a promising opportunity from Junior defender Drake Leary, whose shot sailed high off the crossbar.  With only 10 minutes remaining, fans began to get comfortable in their seats once again presuming another overtime in the making.

To the Scots of Alma College’s dismay, Collin Rathe once again seemed to have other plans.  Rathe’s non-stop motor and undeniable ability to perform under pressure proved heroic for the Titans once again, as he drilled home a loose ball in front of the net to secure the victory.

“Rathe played outstanding all weekend.  He came up clutch when we needed him most and we were able to come out on top,” said senior defender Brian Morefield.

With the two victories, the Titans were proclaimed champions of the “Clash of the Titans” tournament.