The University of Cincinnati’s men’s soccer team suffered a 2-1 loss to crosstown-rival Xavier University Friday night. The Bearcats fought hard, but it wasn’t enough to fend off the No. 10 Musketeers.
It was a battle under the lights at Nippert Stadium, as Xavier aimed to keep the loss column clean after winning its first two matches of the season. While the Musketeers moved to 3-0, the Bearcats fell to 1-2.
Despite the loss, there were a lot of positives in UC’s display.
“I thought, to be honest with you, that we had the better play,” UC Head Coach Hylton Dayes said postgame. “We have a lot to build-on. We told the guys to separate the result from the performance.”
The match had its first goal within the first minute, as Xavier forward Karsen Henderlong powered the ball into the top right corner after a defensive mishap by the Bearcats. UC responded aggressively, getting the ball up field several times but to no avail.
Toward the end of the first half, things started getting rough between the longtime rivals. A nasty clash between UC forward Sam Robinson and Xavier defender Jacob Goodall ended with a yellow card for Robinson.
As a result of the foul, Xavier was awarded a free kick in its own half of the field. Goalkeeper Matt Rosenberg booted the ball up the field, hopping over the UC defense and forward Samson Sergi chipped it over the goalkeeper’s head, making the score 2-0.
Heading into the second half, it would have been easy for the Bearcats to feel disheartened. But according to Dayes that wasn’t the case.
“Our guys could’ve hung their heads when we went down 2-0,” Dayes said. “A goal before half a lot of times changes momentum, but it didn’t seem to bother our guys.”
The resilience from the Bearcats was evident on the pitch, as the defense stood solid against the unmerciful Xavier attack. Momentum started to swing as UC launched several attacks, and a corner was earned in 63rd minute.
UC team captain Donovan Segree kicked it and freshman Kyle Healy scored his first collegiate goal with a header into the right side of the net. The crowd of 2,072 erupted and the Bearcats moved within one goal of tying the score.
Xavier hardly saw much of the ball the rest of the match, as UC facilitated possession and attacked at each opportunity. Unfortunately, despite getting off more than twice as many shots (11) as they did in the first half, the Bearcats were unable to even it up.
While they weren’t able to pull off a comeback like they did against the University at Albany Sept. 2, the same tenacity was there.
“It’s a trait of this team,” Segree said. “But we’ll practice at having better starts to our games, so that were not consistently climbing back after the second half.”
Men’s soccer will travel to Dayton, Ohio, for its next match against Wright State UniversitySept. 10. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.