Blue Streak soccer programs ready for OAC play

September 30th, 2010

On Tuesday Sept. 21, both the men’s and women’s soccer teams had to travel to Pennsylvania to earn victories. 

After feeling good, both teams dropped a tough one over the weekend to split for the week.

 The men’s team started their week by knocking off Penn State-Behrend. That was no easy task as the Lions were ranked ninth in the Great Lakes Region poll.

Especially because JCU had to fight back after the Lions scored the first goal of the game in the seventh minute.

The Blue Streaks did not let that affect them because less then 30 seconds later, senior Jeff Kosek evened things up with a goal after a nice pass from senior David Hickey to send the teams into the half tied 1-1. 

Kosek had a very busy second half. He brought the score to 2-1 when he knocked home a ball in the 55th minute of the game. Shortly thereafter,  Kosek scored yet again to earn his third career hat-trick and give JCU a two-goal lead. 

However, a team with the talent of Behrend would not go away easily. They scored a pair of goals to tie it up at the end of regulation.

The first overtime was scoreless with the Lions outshooting the Blue Streaks 3-1.

The second overtime ended quickly when JCU sophomore Wycliffe Odhiambo delivered a walk-off winner, his third goal of the season, and gave JCU a 4-3 victory.

The seven goals scored in the men’s game would have a lot more offensive fireworks than the women’s game the same night.

In that game, JCU and Westminster College played to a scoreless tie, neither team finding the net in 110 minutes. It wasn’t for lack of effort as the Blue Streaks took 13 shots.

Senior goaltender Molly Gradowski made eight saves against Westminster to pick up her third shutout of the season.

Gradowski, however, was quick to pass off credit to her teammates.

“The shutout against Westminster is a testament to the strength of our team,” she said. “As the season progresses, we play better as a team and we play stronger as a team.” 

After the highs shared on Sept. 24 with both teams fairing well on the road, the lows were a common denominator over the weekend as both teams dropped close contests late.

On Sept. 26, the women’s team  hosted The College of Wooster and took the game into overtime after junior Rachel Grdina scored the equalizer late in the second half.

Unfortunately for the Blue Streaks, their tries were turned away in the extra period and Wooster scored a sudden-death goal to pick up the victory in Shula Stadium, handing JCU their first home loss in 2010.

The men’s team could relate as they dropped a tough one to Misericordia University in double overtime at Shula Stadium on Saturday morning, part of the school’s Homecoming weekend festivities.

The Cougars scored the game’s only goal and escaped with the win as they rebounded a deflected shot back into the net to earn the road win. 

The tough loss didn’t sit well with the Blue Streaks, but could be chalked up as a learning experience.

“We played well in both games, more so in the second half of the Misericordia game,” said Odhiambo. “We need to be a lot tighter at the back. We are yet to record a shutout this year, but we are progressively working on our defense.”

The sophomore knows that the team needs to correct their mistakes with the Ohio Athletic Conference portion of their schedule set to begin on Saturday.

“Offensively, we need to be more lethal when we get chances, especially since conference play is right around the corner.”

Odhiambo’s sentiments about getting things corrected quickly were echoed by senior captain Jeff Kosek.

“We have been developing our style of play, and we will continue to learn and work hard so that results [like the Misericordia game] do not happen again. Conference play begins this weekend and we are not looking back.”

Both the men and women’s teams begin the OAC portion of their schedule in a doubleheader with Otterbein College at Shula Stadium. The men’s game with the Cardinals is at 12 p.m., while the women’s game will begin at 2:30 p.m.