FORT WAYNE – Last season was a forgettable one for the IPFW men’s soccer team – it went 1-15-1 – but the Mastodons didn’t look like a one-win team Saturday against Xavier in the Shindigz National Soccer Festival.
Even though the Mastodons lost the exhibition match 1-0, they had some excellent scoring chances, the best coming in the 83rd minute when Britt Watts, a former Canterbury player, dribbled around the defense and fired a low shot that goalkeeper Vince Shaw punched just outside the right goalpost.
We had a rough year with injuries, IPFW coach Mike Harper said. And we actually have the injury bug again this year. We have one guy who might be out for the year (in Oscar Uyamadu), a couple other injuries, but I think we’ll get through those and we’re looking for some other guys to step up.
The game was held at Carroll because the fields at the Fort Wayne Sport Club were too drenched with water to handle play.
Before the IPFW game, the Taylor women’s team defeated Indiana Tech 1-0, thanks to Emily Brydon’s goal in the 29th minute. Indiana Tech’s Tori Singstock had a game-high three shots, as the Warriors out-shot Taylor 13-12.
IPFW, which had already defeated the Indiana Tech men 3-0 in an exhibition match, faced a tough task against Xavier, which was 10-7-2 last season.
But the Mastodons, who return 10 of 11 starters, fared well.
We played well. Xavier is a good squad, said Austin West, who also played for Canterbury. We played them two years ago, when I was a freshman, and they dominated us. I think the first half, there were some jitters. We didn’t know how they were going to play. We knew they would keep the ball and move it. We almost had to weather the storm. In the second half, though, we made some adjustments and got them off balance. We got some good chances but just couldn’t put one in at the end.
This performance was a good one against a team that’s probably going to be the best we see this season. We have a more balanced squad than last season. Young guys will come in and be able to play right off the bat, unlike past seasons when young guys came in and couldn’t quite keep up the pace with some of the older guys. I feel this team is the most experienced, and best quality, I’ve seen in three years here and we’ll have a good season.
In the 14th minute, Xavier took the lead when Jalen Brown sent a pass through the defense to Owen Steinwall, who was 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper, Carroll graduate Cody Schweitzer, before sending a low shot inside the right goalpost.
The game was back-and-forth until the 76th minute, when Xavier’s Eric McWoods blasted a low shot from the right side of the penalty area that was stopped by IPFW goalkeeper Raphael Kotzock. Shortly after that, Kyle Martin had a nasty collision with an IPFW player while chasing a header. He walked off the field under his own power, after being on the ground for about four minutes.
We put forth a great effort and they worked hard, Harper said. We need to fix our final third and create more shots on goal, get more of an attack, but we’re starting with the back and building from there. We felt the back line did a great job today.
Shaw had four saves. IPFW’s Jacob Murphy had a game-best three shots, as IPFW outshot Xavier 9-8.