MSOC: Wilkes’ stout defense holds firm against Susquehanna

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MSOC: Wilkes’ stout defense holds firm against Susquehanna

Wilkes senior captain Kyle Bentz fights for positioning on a corner kick in Thursday night’s 1-0 contest against Susquehanna.

Wilkes senior captain Kyle Bentz fights for positioning on a corner kick in Thursday night’s 1-0 contest against Susquehanna.

Kyle Kraemer

Wilkes senior captain Kyle Bentz fights for positioning on a corner kick in Thursday night’s 1-0 contest against Susquehanna.

Kyle Kraemer

Kyle Kraemer

Wilkes senior captain Kyle Bentz fights for positioning on a corner kick in Thursday night’s 1-0 contest against Susquehanna.

Ariel Reed, Staff Writer

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EDWARDSVILLE, Pa. — On Sept. 18, Wilkes defeated the Susquehanna University Riverhawks in a ruthless game where the Colonel defense was key to securing the 1-0 win. 

In the first half of the Wednesday night showdown, the Riverhawks controlled possession of the ball. However, Susquehanna was only able to fire off seven shots due to the power of the Wilkes defensive line and their incredible goalie, sophomore Russell Rauh. 

Despite having fourteen combined shots, neither the Colonels nor the Riverhawks hit the back of the net. 

Both team’s defenses were key to maintaining the 0-0 draw in the first half. Susquehanna took early control, as they attempted three of their seven total shots in the first seven minutes of the contest. Susquehanna’s Alex Bellot took two of the three shots on goal. The Colonel defense thwarted Bellot and the rest of the Riverhawks’ offensive efforts.

Despite focusing on their defense for most of the first half, Wilkes did have several breakthrough moments that were spurred by freshman midfielder Matthew Horwedel, allowing the offense to have some powerful offensive runs.

In the midfield position, Horwedel was able to win the ball and start the Colonels’ attack. Horwedel played a consistent role in the set plays by effortlessly dropping in impressive corner kicks. Horwedel may be a freshman, but on Thursday night’s game, he sure did not play like one.

“These guys just really helped take me in and basically showed me the way,” said Horwedel, noting the transition to playing at the collegiate level. “It really isn’t that hard with having these guys teach me everything. I can adapt pretty easily without having to work extra hard.” 

After intense offense competitions, the Colonels finally found the goal in the 57th minute of play. 

Senior midfielder Kyle Bentz struck the back of the net off of a Colonel penalty kick in what would become the only goal of the contest.

For the next 30 minutes, defensive efforts controlled the outcome of the game. Wilkes’ game plan continued to be successful, even after a tough final three minutes of play. 

The Riverhawks kicked their intensity up to an eleven during the final three minutes, trying relentlessly to penetrate the unstoppable Colonel defense. However, their efforts were to no avail.

The impenetrable Colonel defense can primarily be attributed to sophomore goalie Russel Rauh. 

He made several impressive saves and did not let the pressure of the game get to his head during heightened moments.

“We have to stick to what our fundamentals are,” said Rauh. “We focus on trying to keep balls out of the net, and we’re always proud of our defense.” 

Rauh soiled the Riverhawks’ attempts to score with seven total saves on the evening. 

“(Rauh) did a good job tonight,” said head coach Michael Piranian. “He made a great save to keep us in it, and he offers a good source of athleticism back there. Guys take to that, he obviously adds a lot to our defense.” 

Piranian was satisfied with his defensive players’ grit. 

“The last three minutes took a long time,” noted Piranian. “It gave me a couple of gray hairs, but I was happy with their effort today.” 

Wilkes’ record advanced to 3-2-1 on the win. 

The Colonels will hit the turf tomorrow at 4 p.m. against the University of Scranton.