Patriots’ tough loss to Bearcats in overtime

The Patriots’ men’s soccer team faced a tough defeat after two overtime periods to the Lander Bearcats in their first game of the season at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 2.

Within minutes of the match starting, the Patriots secured their first goal by freshman forward, Nick Huenig. Though the Bearcats fought hard through the first half–with several close calls–the Patriots remained in the lead until the beginning of the second half.

The Patriots began to break down with a red card given to sophomore defender Rodrigo Alvarez, causing the team to play the remainder of the match with one less player. Shortly after the red card, the Bearcats tied it up with their first goal.

Junior forward Alvaro Zamora managed to take the lead back with an impressive 11-yard shot halfway through the second half.

“At the time of scoring that goal, when the team had been working very hard throughout the second half with one less player; it was an incredible feeling,” Zamora said.

The Patriots were able to hold the lead until the end of the second half. The two teams went into two overtime periods to settle the score. Early in the second overtime period, the Bearcats were able to slip one in and ended up emerging victoriously.

Though it was a heartbreaking loss, the Patriots look toward the rest of their season optimistically.

“Lander will always be a game that we want to play,” Zamora said. “They were ranked top ten in the nation, so beating them would have been great for the team.”

Graduate defender Oier Bernaola is disappointed in the loss to the Bearcats, but he has confidence in the team’s ability to have a successful season after working out the kinks.

“A game is not going to change the mentality and the goals of the team; we still want the same things from the season,” Bernaola said. “It is true that this loss could be like a warning to us because we still have a lot to improve to achieve our goals.”

One motivator for a good season comes from having a semi-normal one again after their latest experience with strict COVID-19 regulations.

“It was a very good feeling to arrive on the field and to see so many people, even before the game started, ready to support us in our season opener against a very tough opponent,” Bernaola said. “It was great to have them back.”

After last season, with a late start date and limited allowed fan attendance, the Patriots are excited to be back playing for their multitude of fans this season.

“Being back on the field after the year of the COVID-19 is a great experience since it feels different,” Zamora said. “This year, the national championship returns, and we all want to be there.”

The Patriots will continue their journey toward the NCAA Division II championship with their conference season coming up shortly. You can catch the Patriots next on the field Wednesday, Sept. 15., at 7 p.m. playing the Coker University Cobras.

While students can attend for free, fans must purchase tickets ahead of time or at the ticket booth to see the games. As it is outside at the Griffin Athletic Complex, masks are optional, but social distancing is enforced.