Many coaches say it is not how you start, but rather how you finish. The John Carroll University men’s soccer team hopes that this old adage is true.
After a 3-5 start, the Blue Streaks have been clicking as of late and have won three consecutive OAC matches to start league play.
The Blue Streaks now own an overall record of 6-5 and a share of first-place with Otterbein in the OAC standings.
“A 3-0 start in the OAC is a huge advantage for us. It’s a good feeling being able to control our own destiny in the conference and being the team to beat,” said senior captain Alex Bernot.
The team feels they have been able to get out to such a good start in the league because of the struggles they faced together to start the season.
“I feel that our out of conference schedule was very good preparation for what we could face in the OAC this year. Every year we like to play the toughest non-conference schedule possible to get us ready for what we are up against in the OAC and beyond in the NCAA tournament,” said Bernot.
JCU recently improved to 3-0 in the league after their 3-1 victory over Muskingum College on Saturday afternoon at Don Shula Stadium.
The Blue Streaks fell behind in the game’s second minute when a Muskingum shot ricocheted off the post and in, giving the Fighting Muskies the early lead.
Just seven minutes later the Blue Streaks would tie the game when Alex Bernot connected for his sixth goal of the season.
Juniors Scott McKinney and Louis Kastelic set up Bernot’s goal. McKinney hit Kastelic on the left wing, who in turn found the captain to finish the play off.
Bernot would return the favor to McKinney in the game’s twenty-first minute when he found McKinney in front of the goal.
McKinney’s shot to the bottom right corner found the back of the net to give the Blue Streaks all the scoring they would need.
Just in case, the Blue Streaks added an insurance goal in the 58th minute when freshman Joe Ciacci found classmate Kyle Buxman for the game’s final score.
While the offense was busy scoring goals, the defense was busy all afternoon preventing them.
The defense was able to keep the ball out of dangerous territory and allowed Muskingum just six shots on goal, whereas the Blue Streaks had 24.
However, even when Muskingum managed to get an attempt on goal, sophomore goaltender Matt DeMarchi was there to turn them away. DeMarchi finished the contest with three saves.
Helping the goaltenders all year with the defense have been sophomore Steve Rock and junior Mike Pinter. Bernot said the two often don’t get the credit they deserve, but went on to call them “the backbone of the team.”
The Blue Streaks return home against Otterbein College on Saturday afternoon at Don Shula Stadium in what is setting up to be a game with conference title implications.