One thing is becoming clear – Eastern Mennonite’s men like to play on their own turf. Wednesday night they welcomed a talented Hampden-Sydney squad to Harrisonburg and scored two second-half goals to win 2-1 and improve to 5-1 at home.
The game was light on shots in the opening minutes as the teams established the flow of play. Starting in the 14th minute, the Royals started to take over and fired five shots in the span of four minutes. Caleb Golladay (Mt. Jackson, VA/Stonewall Jackson) put a pair on goal and the men had a few looks sail wide off breakaways.
After play evened out, Hampden-Sydney struck first in the 36th minute. Chris Whiteside sent a long pass ahead to Tiger teammate James Lawrence. As EMU’s defense stuttered and hoped for an offsides call, Lawrence punched in the shot for a 1-0 lead.
The Royals nearly got an equalizer in the closing seconds of the half, as Jordan Hollinger (Lancaster, PA/Lancaster Mennonite) zipped a shot past HSC’s keeper, but it sailed inches wide of the goal.
After a quiet start to the second half, Barkot Akalu (Addis Abeba, Ethiopia/Lycee Guebre Mariam) triggered an explosion in the 67th minute. The speedy forward made a move at the top of the box and fired a shot which went through the keepers hands and tied the score.
Less than two minutes later, the Royals took the lead. With a mess of players in the box, Mitchell Leap (Harrisonburg, VA/Eastern Mennonite) shot a loose ball which Muoka Musau (Ashburn, VA/Stone Bridge) deflected into the net with his heel.
With 22 minutes still to go, EMU had some time to hold off the Tigers. The defensive line did well to bend and then send back long clears, while the offense dribbled off the clock. A hustling Brendan Jeschke (Vienna, VA/James Madison) nearly scored in the final minute, but the men settled for the 2-1 win.
Eastern Mennonite had a 22-12 edge in shots, including 10-4 on goal. Patrick Fox (Virginia Beach, VA/Kempsville) played all 90 minutes in goal and collected three saves.
The Royals improve to 6-6-1 with the win. More importantly, they tightened their grip on second place in the ODAC standings with a 4-1 mark. Next up is a date at Guilford this Friday, which is 2-2 in the league after a win 2-0 win over Virginia Wesleyan Tuesday.