BY NICHOLAS FORBES – STAFF WRITER
Freshman midfielder Eric Dempsey’s late-game goal lifted the visiting Susquehanna men’s soccer team over Merchant Marine 2-1 on Sept. 19.
With the game tied 1-1 late in the second half, the Crusaders began to push the ball up the field and be more aggressive on offense. In the 83rd minute, freshman forward Maxfield Reed chipped a pass to the left post to Dempsey. Dempsey gathered and lobbed the game-winning shot past Merchant Marine junior goalkeeper Cory Maier.
The Crusaders (4-3) fell behind early after Merchant Marine junior forward Gavin Yingling found the back of the net in the 15th minute. Unable to get anything going offensively, Susquehanna went into the half facing a 1-0 deficit.
In the second half, it was a different story. The shooting picked up for the Crusaders, who posted eight shots in the second half compared to five in the first.
“We just had to be a little bit quicker,” said Coach Jim Findlay. “Speed of play had to be a little quicker.”
The Crusaders picked up the tempo by switching from two defensive midfielders to one, allowing another attacker to push up and put pressure on a stout Merchant Marince defense.
The equalizer came in the 69th minute when Dempsey crossed from the top right of the box to find sophomore forward Ryan Cronin for his fifth goal of the year.
The new offensive firepower set up Dempsey’s late game heroics and gave the Crusaders their fourth win of the year.
That total already matches the win total from last year for the Crusaders, who finished 4-12-3 in their 2014 campaign. Much of this early season success is attributed to the young freshmen on the team.
“This is the first time in a while in my time here that we have played as many freshman and sophomores that I can remember,” Findlay said. “These young guys have made the most of their starts or the time that they’ve been given in the game.”
The Crusaders began the season with a game-to-game approach due in large part to the youth and inexperience of the team, but now with more and more young players proving they mean business, the expectations are higher.
The Crusaders look to continue this momentum into their next contest against Wilkes on Sept. 23.