Coach Ibanez and Coach Turner knew it would be an exciting match as the Bears emerged from the Jack sporting some of the best gelled hair styles this side of the Atlantic. With several sing-alongs to make the hour and a half drive a little shorter, we arrived at our new field on Wilbraham’s campus ready to go.
After a brief warm up and our now signature “ELE” (everybody loves everybody) cheer, the Bears took to the field against a smaller yet technically talented side. Within the first 10 minutes, Berkshire’s strikers had made their presence felt. Sam Lewis ‘14 made several great runs, and more than once received the ball after flying past his defender only to hit it over the cross bar. Winger Dan Driscoll ‘15 remained open on the right and, in the 13th minute, created space, dribbled to the corner flag and connected with striker JP Alvarez’s ‘16 whose header went just wide. As both teams settled into play, the Bears opportunities seemed to dissipate as our possession became more haphazard. However, in the 21st minute, Gerry Gimenez-Valdez ‘15 took a free kick from 25 yards out. We had yet to take a shot from this distance out despite both coaches urging players to let it fly and to test the keeper. Gerry took the kick with one goal, putting Berkshire on the score board. He did just that with a beautiful strike that dipped into the far top corner of the net. With a 1-0 lead the Bears looked poised to take control of the match but some confusion in midfield an inability to clear the ball left Wilbraham with a scrum of players in front of our net. A misplayed clearance hit a Berkshire player and bounced into the net to even the game at 1 apiece despite the best efforts of keeper Steven Halperin ’13.
In the second half Sam Lewis yet again made his presence felt early and this time received a through ball he was able to blast into the back of the net for his 2nd goal in two games. Berkshire’s pressure started to wear down Wilbraham’s defense and as the second-half progressed, the Bears were able to generate numerous chances. Converting these chances and remaining onside became the real challenge. Fifteen minutes in, central defender Andre Bogdanovic ‘15 almost chipped the keeper off of a free kick. The keeper was able to just push the ball over the top of the net. The Bears continued to pressure and five minutes later Pete Warsinske ‘14 played a great through ball to co-captain Max Hare ‘13 who slipped the ball passed the keeper and into the side netting for Berkshire’s third goal. Chris Zaffanella ‘15 came off the bench at forward and thanks to his hard work chasing down clearances from our defense, notched the ball off a corner to Hunter Borwick who was waiting in front of the goal and headed it beautifully into the back of the net. While Wilbraham was able to steal one back, the Bears continued to play strong soccer and controlled the tempo of the final fifteen minutes of the match.
It was a hard-fought victory and while it wasn’t the best soccer, the team demonstrated some of the its potential.