by Tom Utescher
When host Chestnut Hill College and visiting Bloomfield College started into the second half tied up at 1-1, you got the feeling that in this hard-fought, physical round of soccer the first team to seriously put a foot wrong would probably emerge on the short end of the final score.
Unfortunately for the home crowd last Saturday afternoon, that team turned out to be the Griffins, who turned the ball over deep in their own end on an attempted clear, and gave up the deciding goal to the visiting Deacons with 22:38 left to play.
Chestnut Hill could have pulled even with its New Jersey guest in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference standings with a victory, but instead CHC came away with a record of 1-3 in the conference and 3-6-1 overall, while Bloomfield rode off with a 3-1 mark in the CACC and an overall tally of 5-3.
It was the fourth one-goal loss for the Griffins this season, and coach Keith Cappo admitted “We’ve definitely managed to cost ourselves this season with some of the goals we’ve given up. We’ve had other times this season where we were right in the game and let it slip away.”
Play flowed freely up and down the pitch and CHC was able to get off almost as many shots as the Deacons (17-21), but Cappo noted “We need our front three guys working a little more together; we turned it into sort of an individual game. We were also trying to go over the top [of the defense] a little too much, instead of keeping the ball on our feet.”
Bloomfield attacked at the outset, but Chestnut Hill came back down the field to have junior Hernan Angulo get off a header from the left side of the box. Deacons keeper Kieran Moran had to make a mighty leap for the save, and managed to come down with the ball.
About 11 minutes in, the visitors were first on the board, striking from the right side of the penalty area. Bloomfield’s Kemar Richards maneuvered past the defender marking him to boot a strong shot into the net.
The Griffins made numerous attempts to score the equalizer in the middle of the period. Freshman Tristan Johns smashed an outside shot into the crossbar of the visitors’ goal, and at another point the Deacons’ Moran had to charge out to break up a rush by Griffin junior Darryl Richardson. On one sequence Angulo hit two shots in succession, the second off his own rebound, but Moran (six saves total) stopped them both.
Bloomfield later reversed the flow and the Chestnut Hill defense had two close escapes with six and five minutes left in the period. The Griffins would have the last word in the opening half, though, earning a corner kick from the right with just over a minute to go. Richardson’s restart was not a particularly high serve, but from a few steps inside the near post senior Anthony O’Conner got his noggin on the ball and headed it down across the goal line.
The Griffins also had some chances as the second half unfolded, but couldn’t add a second goal. On a Bloomfield charge to the other end, CHC fans thought this particular threat had ended with the ball safely in the hands of sophomore goalie David Sullivan. But when he came out near the right corner of the box to try and clear the ball short to a teammate, an alert opponent, Michael Beeson, stepped in to intercept and chipped a long shot into the open Chestnut Hill net.
“It wasn’t a bad decision tactically to try that clear,” Cappo commented, “but technically we didn’t execute it well.”
The visitors were now up 2-1 with 22:38 remaining, and three minutes later the Griffins had a strong shot by junior Chris Wilson bounce off a defender.
With 16-and-a-half minutes left, Sullivan made a stop on a Bloomfield shot, but reinjured a finger that had been dislocated earlier in the afternoon. This time he went to the sideline for good with a total of nine saves, and senior Mike Goldstein finished out the contest. Goldstein, in his second season as a team co-captain, has seen limited action this fall due to injury problems of his own.
During a Griffin assault with 13 minutes left to play the ball got loose behind Moran, but a Deacon defender stepped in to clear it away from the goalmouth. CHC also came up empty on a series of late corner kicks, and the visitors’ slim lead held up.
“It took awhile for us to come back after they scored that second goal, but we played well at the end,” Cappo said. “We just couldn’t finish on our chances, and good chances aren’t easy to come by in college soccer.”