“It was a feeling of failure,” Roberto Contreras ’12 said of the locker room mood on Monday night.
The Swarthmore men’s soccer team, last year’s Centennial Conference champion, ensured that they will have to wait at least a year to get back to the playoffs. Falling to Haverford 2-1, the Garnet (11-6, 5-4) officially failed to qualify for the postseason.
“We had high expectations this year, with so many starters coming back from last year’s team,” Contreras said. “And we didn’t meet them.”
Nineteen minutes into the game, the Fords (9-6-1, 5-4) jumped out to a lead on the sixth goal of the year from star forward Rettig y Martinez off an assist from David Robinson. Although the Garnet took ten shots in the first half to Haverford’s two, the hafltime score was 1-0.
In the second half, Haverford controlled the ball more than it had early on, but didn’t add to their lead until 30 minutes into the half, when forward Ford Bohrmann made it 2-0 off an assist from Tyler Freeman.
In the game’s 76th minute, midfielder Jack Momeyer ’14 added his third goal of the season, an unassisted score on Haverford goalkeeper Nick Kahn that drew the Garnet within one.
“It was a cross from the left side, and the ball bounced back in front of me,” Momeyer said. “There were a couple of defenders on the line, but it snuck between them and went in.”
Swarthmore could only get one more shot off the entire game. In the final seconds, a last-ditch attempt by forward David Sterngold ’12 sailed wide, and with it the Garnet’s hopes of a playoff berth.
Goalkeeper David D’Annunzio ‘12 tried to maintain a positive outlook.
“We’re obviously disappointed,” D’Annunzio said. “But there will be [the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) tournament] coming, and as a senior class we want to go out winning. The key is coming back together and being on the same page, to go out there and play and not think so much.”
At times, this edition of the Garnet appeared to measure up to the 2010 team that lost one game the entire season. Swarthmore raced to a 5-0 start, outscoring opponents 18-2 in that stretch. After that, however, the team went just 6-6 the rest of the way, and while it still outscored the competition overall 16-12, cracks were showing. The first one came in a 1-0 loss to Stevens that gave first-year goalkeeper Brian Schaake his first career shutout. That was followed by a 2-1 loss to Dickinson, and suddenly Swarthmore had already exceeded its loss total from the previous year in early October.
“Last year, when we had chances, we were able to follow through on them, and this year we didn’t do that,” Contreras said.
The Garnet rebounded over fall break to reach a high-water mark of 10-2 with an October 12 win on the road in Scranton. Next, however, the team lost four of its next five games, including a three-game losing streak for the first time in seven years. Included in that three-game streak was another inauspicious milestone: a heartbreaking 3-2 double-overtime home loss to Richard Stockton that marked the first time since 2008 that Swarthmore had suffered a defeat at Clothier Field.
In the end, though members of the team tried to emphasize the season’s positives, the lack of anyone specific that deserved blame and the fact that there was still more soccer to be played, the sense of failure that Contreras described is hard to escape. The team will now look to the future and hope that it is brighter.
“Coach [Eric Wagner] said it was time for all of us, including himself, to reflect on what we can do better, “ Momeyer said. “Our ECAC participation will be telling if we’ve given up on the season or will go out there with character and continue to prove themselves.
“For non-seniors, [he said] this was the perfect time to build for next year, the time where you respond to adversity and bounce back.”