SSU MSOC mauls Eagles

In a strong performance from start to finish, the men’s soccer program at Shawnee State used two goals from Kevin de Lange, a dominating offensive display that saw the Bears collect a 19-14 edge in shots — including a 13-6 edge in the second half — and another clean sheet by Corbin Betz en route to a 5-0 victory over the Asbury men’s soccer program on Wednesday evening at Shawnee Turf in Portsmouth.

Over the first 30 minutes of play, both teams traded punches as SSU and Asbury narrowly missed on several connections early on in the contest. Thomas de Graauw, who had a free kick opportunity from 25 yards out, narrowly missed on a shot as the ball glanced off of the crossbar in the 13th minute of action, while Asbury’s Noah Welch had a similar opportunity bounce off the top of the crossbar in the 26th minute to cap off a series where both teams combined for seven shots to open the contest.

However, in the latter portion of the first half of competition, the Bears began to loosen the Eagles’ grip from a defensive standpoint.

After a shot by Bryce Romanello narrowly missed high in the 34th minute of play after being deflected by an Asbury player, Shawnee State got a corner kick opportunity from de Lange, who wasted no time wowing the crowd. The sophomore from the Netherlands took a corner kick from the far side of the field and used his crafty ball placement to fit the goal in the back of the net, creating a pause from the crowd at Shawnee Turf from the shock of the goal finding its way in from such an awkward angle in the 34th frame of action.

The Bears, however, weren’t finished scoring.

Following a nine-minute period without a shot from either side, de Graauw used his exceptionally strong leg to join his fellow Dutchman in the scoring column as de Graauw received a pass, took eight steps inward toward the middle of the pitch, and fired a shot from 25 yards out en route to scoring on a fantastic shot that found the upper 90 en route to putting the Bears up by a 2-0 margin with 23 seconds to play in the first half.

Despite Shawnee State trailing by a 8-6 margin in shots during the first half, de Graauw’s shot completely changed the complexion of the contest, which was evident with the energy that the Bears played with in the second half of competition.

In the opening five minutes alone, the Bears put four shots up as de Lange, Joao Toledo, Nathan Ewing, and Bryce Romanello kept the pressure on. When Toledo missed a shot after a corner kick, it was Ewing and Romanello who were there on the button in the 49th minute as Ewing quickly fed a ball to Romanello, who finished top shelf to put SSU ahead by a 3-0 margin.

Asbury matched Shawnee State in shots over the following 15 minutes of play (two shots apiece), but Corbin Betz, who pitched his second consecutive shutout in his third start of the year, saved five shots, including a Nash Philogene shot in the 61st, and de Lange, again, struck off of a pass from Toledo in the 64th frame to put the game away. For good measure, Toledo and de Lange added in one final connection as the former scored off of a cross from the latter on a breakaway to seal the deal in the 78th minute.

With the win, the Bears improved to 6-3 overall and have won six of their last seven after an 0-2 start to the season. In addition to outshooting the Eagles by a 19-14 margin in the win, SSU edged Asbury in corner kicks, 7-6, in the victory. Fouls were even at 10 apiece.

Offensively, de Lange (six shots, two on goal, two goals, assist) led the way. The sophomore, who has 10 goals and six assists for the season, now has 26 points and, in less than a half a season, sits tied for ninth all-time in single-season points. With his effort tonight, de Lange also moved into sixth all-time for a career in points (60), and sits just one point behind Martyn Sayer for fifth all-time with two-and-a-half seasons still to go in his career.

Behind de Lange, Graauw, who placed two of his four shots on goal while scoring one, Romanello, who blasted a shot in on two attempts, and Toledo, who scored his lone goal on three attempts while adding in an assist, led the Bears offensively. Jacob Perry’s two shots, including one on goal, along with a shot each from Bruno Rovares and Shane Zimmerman, rounded out the SSU barrage.

The Bears will round out their three game homestand with a contest against Cincinnati Christian on Saturday, Oct. 21. The match will commence at 7 p.m. at Shawnee Turf.