Crusaders fall in first round of NCAAs


The Susquehanna men’s soccer team traveled to Dickinson to play in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year Nov. 16, where they lost to the Red Devils 2-0 after giving up two second-half goals.
Leading up to the match, Crusaders’ Head Coach Jim Findlay said he knew Dickinson liked to possess the ball and move it from side to side.
Even though Findlay said he felt Dickinson had the majority of the possession in the first half, he said he also felt it worked into Susquehanna’s favor as the half wore on.
“When you play that way, then you’re looking to counterattack and I felt as the half wore on and because they pushed so many numbers forward, we were able to generate some attack ourselves,” he said.
He said that the team’s game plan was to defend as well as we can and make them play side to side and then look to counterattack once we win the ball.
The Crusaders had several chances to score in the first half, including a shot by senior defender Dean Hristopoulos in the 25th minute that forced a save by Dickinson freshman goalie Jeremy Palcan. Palcan was forced to make two more saves later in the half on shots by senior midfielder Andrew Murphy and senior defender Patrick Fry.
Findlay said the 0-0 scoreline at halftime was huge for the team. However, the momentum gained would be short-lived, as the Red Devils struck quickly once play resumed, finding the back of the net five minutes into the second half on a restart.
Following a foul call against the Crusaders, Dickinson sent the ball into the penalty box, and a mad scramble ensued to clear the ball. After the scramble, the first person to get a foot on it was Dickinson senior midfielder Chris Shultz, who buried the ball into the back of the net from close range despite the best effort of Susquehanna senior goalie Matt Salsman.
Findlay said, “We felt good about our defensive effort in the first half and it was just an unfortunate goal mouth scramble.”
“I’m sure if we had it over again we would defend it differently. You see the momentum swing. They’re at home. They go up. I wouldn’t say necessarily we dropped but they definitely went up and were able to keep the lead on their half,” he added.
Dickinson used the momentum to add another goal later in the half in the 79th minute, effectively putting the game out of reach and ending the Crusaders’ hope of a comeback.
The goal came off the foot of freshman forward/midfielder Danny Sheppard, who pounced on senior midfielder Javier Mena’s second assist of the game and buried it in the back of the net past Salsman.
Despite the loss and being eliminated from the tournament, Findlay said he is proud of his players considering the circumstances entering the year.
“I think this was a year that heading into it, there was a lot of unknowns whether we could get back to that same level [as last year]. I think that group of guys, the whole group not just the seniors, really proved to everybody that they were for real. It’s a mark of a good problem,” he said.
In addition, Findlay said the support for the team over the last couple weeks of the season was appreciated.
Findlay said: “I think on behalf of the coaches and the players, the amount of people that took the time and effort to get down to the game this weekend, it was appreciated by everybody on the team. There was a huge turnout. We heard about it but you don’t know until it happens. [The] support for the last few weeks and most especially on Saturday was great, and I know the coaches and players really appreciated it.”