The season may be young, but the Garnet have already made a habit of starting games fast and getting on the scoreboard early. In the season opener at Eastern, Swarthmore scored the first three goals of the game, and in last Saturday’s 320 Challenge matchup against Widener, the Garnet scored first yet again.
Unfortunately, the fast starts are not translating into wins, as opposing teams have taken control late in games to not only catch up, but pull away from the Garnet. Take the game against Widener as an example. In their home opener, according to defender Zach Schaffer ‘14, “We came out of the gate on fire. We were hitting on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. Our defense was sliding aggressively and our offense was wheeling and dealing.”
Indeed, Swarthmore started hot. Ian Lukaszewicz ‘15 opened scoring just three minutes into the game, and although Widener soon found an equalizer, the Garnet scored twice more to take a 3-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. Chris Thomson ‘15 finished the quarter with a dagger, finding the back of the net with less than one second left on the clock.
The Garnet kept up the pressure in the second quarter, scoring twice more early on to go up 5-1. Although at this point it appeared Swarthmore had the game under control, there were still nearly 35 minutes to play, and the Pride made the most of them.
The Garnet went cold after the fifth goal, but Widener was just warming up, going on a 3-0 run to close the half. The Garnet still led, but with just a one goal lead, the game had shifted to one of preserving the lead while it existed. The trend continued into the third quarter, as the Pride managed to tie the score in the final minute of the quarter at six apiece, despite an extra goal from Andrew Preiser ‘15.
Widener rode that momentum through the final horn, scoring five goals in the final 15 minutes to put the game out of reach. Steve Selverian ‘13 scored twice in the Garnet’s effort to keep up with the Pride, but any hope of a Swarthmore rally was extinguished after a costly turnover with around 2:30 left in the game.
Jonathan Cohen ‘14 had a tremendous game in goal, recording eight saves to keep the Garnet in the game until the end. On the defensive end, Schaffer led the team with four caused turnovers.
There were positive signs in the loss, as Widener was a quality opponent who had recently taken the defending national champion Salisbury to the wire in a close game. And, throughout the game, the Garnet proved able to hang with the best.
Schaffer pointed out that “We have an extremely athletic team across the board and will be able to turn ground balls in the defensive end into stick side high cheddar at the drop of a cap…We have several players on the offensive end who can snag corners with the best of them and drop dimes like there are holes in their pockets.” This certainly showed during the Widener matchup.
Hanging with the best does not necessarily mean winning, though, and being able to finish games after taking early leads will be important. As Schaffer said, “The keys for the team going forward will be playing complete games, throwing fastballs and staying hydrated by drinking Motive Pure (the fastest growing sports drink in the US brought to you by Max Hubbard ‘12).”
Even with the loss, Swarthmore still holds a commanding 8-3 lead in the 320 Challenge. The Garnet next face #12 Cabrini at home on Saturday at 1:00, before traveling to San Diego for spring break. In between “enjoying the world famous San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld,” as Schaffer said, Swarthmore will find time for games against Whittier and Keene St.