Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2004
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SOCCER PLAYOFF PREVIEWS
MULES SEEK TO REPEAT
Men to Start in Unfriendly Place

Followers of the Muhlenberg men’s soccer program don’t have to think too hard to come up with the most difficult place for the Mules to play: Johns Hopkins. Since the start of the Centennial Conference, Muhlenberg is 0-8 at Hopkins.

Not far behind is Franklin & Marshall, and that is exactly where the Mules are headed for the first
Wesley Deininger
Freshman Wesley Deininger, playing close to his hometown of Ephrata, scored both Mule goals in the first F&M game.
round of the CC playoffs tomorrow.

Muhlenberg (8-7-2, 5-3-1) and F&M (10-4-2, 5-3-1) tied for fourth place in the CC, but the Diplomats got the higher seed because of their 4-2 head-to-head win on Sept. 29. That was the fourth straight loss in Lancaster for the Mules, who have not won at Franklin & Marshall since 1996.

Muhlenberg also lost by a 4-2 count at F&M in 2002. All the other CC teams have combined for as many four-goal games against the Mules as the Diplomats have managed the last three years.

“That’s a good question,” joked senior goalie Chris Davis when asked about the team’s difficulties at F&M. “I think we read about the history and it’s always in the back of our heads. Last game we got behind the eight-ball quickly. But we have momentum now, and if we keep that momentum with us we should be fine.”

The first F&M game kicked off a five-game winless streak for the Mules. Since then, they have won five in a row, outscoring their opponents, 19-3, and shutting out their last four CC foes.

“Defensively we were at our weakest point at that game. But we made a couple of changes and it seems to be working now,” said Davis, who ranks third in team history with 25 career shutouts. “Offensively we’re a lot hungrier in the box. We also changed our practices to make them more competition-oriented and that has carried over into games.”

Franklin & Marshall, ranked seventh in the Mid-Atlantic Region, also finished strong. The Diplomats had a seven-game unbeaten streak snapped with a 2-1 loss to No. 2 Johns Hopkins in Saturday’s regular-season finale. All four of the Dips’ losses are by one goal.

F&M allowed 10 goals in CC games, the most of any team that finished with a winning record. The Diplomats also scored 16 goals, second only to Muhlenberg’s 20.

“I think it’s going to be a very back-and-forth game,” predicted Davis. “They keep their outside midfielders high and try to counter quickly using those midfielders as an outlet. So after we attack they’ll be right back on top of us.”

Muhlenberg is 2-2 all-time in CC playoff games, winning the conference title last year, while F&M is 1-1, with both games going to penalty kicks. The Diplomats lead the all-time series, 27-22-3.

Women Out to Avenge Last Loss

The Muhlenberg women’s soccer team shouldn’t have any trouble finding motivation for Wednesday’s home Centennial Conference playoff game against Ursinus.

The two teams will be meeting for the second time in five days. In Saturday’s regular-season finale, the Bears scored twice late in the game for a 3-2 win. It was the first time Ursinus, which is in its ninth year as a varsity team, beat Muhlenberg.

“Our whole attitude was wrong from the start, and we just sort of coasted,” said senior Rebecca Armstrong, noting that the game had no bearing on the standings and the
Ashley Reed
Freshman Ashley Reed scored her fifth goal of the season in the 30th minute to tie Saturday’s game at Ursinus, 1-1.
Mules knew they would have a home playoff game against Ursinus. “They were all pumped for the game because they had so many fans there, and we never were really into it.”

Nevertheless, a loss is a loss, and Armstrong, who recorded her 100th career point in the game, thinks the Mules (10-5-2, 6-3-1) will be ready for the Bears (11-6-1, 6-4) this time.

“When we lost to Gettysburg in the playoffs my sophomore year, I couldn’t wait for my junior year to come back and beat them,” she said. “I think we’ll have a totally different attitude.”

This will be the second straight season that Muhlenberg and Ursinus meet twice in a row. Last year, the Mules eked out a 1-0 win in the last game of the regular season, then scored three first-half goals en route to a 3-1 victory in the CC semifinals. Muhlenberg went on to beat Gettysburg for its third CC championship in four years.

The Mules will have a big advantage playing on familiar turf at Varsity Field. They are 32-1-1 in their last 34 home games, although the one loss was to Gettysburg in the 2002 CC playoffs.

Prior to Saturday’s game, Muhlenberg had allowed only three goals in its last seven matches. Ursinus joins Johns Hopkins and Gettysburg as the only CC teams to score three goals in a game against the Mules since 1996. The Bears are fifth in the CC in scoring offense, at 2.05 goals per game, although they were outscored (17-15) in 10 CC matches.

“Their forwards are big and aggressive, and since we’re shorter they’re pretty strong in the air. We have to play to feet to be successful,” said Armstrong. “They play with a compact midfield, so if we can utilize our outside flanks we’ll have a different game. We also need to shoot more and capitalize.”


Questions or comments? Send mail to falk@muhlenberg.edu
Last updated November 2, 2004