The Oglethorpe men's soccer team nearly erased a 4-goal deficit in just 22 minutes' time against No. 16 Mary Hardin-Baylor at the Oglethorpe Track and Field Friday night, but came up just short in the end, falling 4-3 to the visiting Crusaders in a game that the latter had led by as much as 4-0 in the second half. The loss dropped the Stormy Petrels to 1-2 on their very difficult early-season slate, with a couple of losses to top 20 opponents.
Mary Hardin-Baylor appeared to put the game out of reach in the 69th minute, scoring their fourth goal of the match and building a 4-0 lead in the process. The Petrels had been competitive in the game and had had the run of play for much of the second half, but a couple of defensive lapses and a couple of outstanding counterattack goals by the Crusaders over a 7-minute period allowed the visitors to score three goals during that stretch and put the Petrels seriously behind the eight-ball after trailing just 1-0 at halftime.
However, the home side answered almost immediately when junior defender Christian Waegelin placed a beautiful cross on the back post for junior midfielder Josh Bronstorph to head home and make it 4-1.
The Petrels kept attacking and quickly bagged a second when junior forward Gabriel Alvarez headed a ball to the far post for junior forward Matt Ward to finish in the 75th minute. The home side had some life yet.
They set up a wild finish when they tallied a third goal in the 85th minute. Junior midfielder Adam Sole ran onto a ball in the box after a mis-hit shot by freshman midfielder Ian Flores and hammered a shot past the Mary Hardin-Baylor goalkeeper. Down by just a goal with five minutes left, the Petrels tried desperately to force the equalizer. However, junior midfielder Andrew Grodhaus had a shot blocked in front of goal in the 88th minute, and the Petrels saw their last chance to tie the game go by the wayside after a cross sailed out of play for a goal kick with about a minute left.
Both Oglethorpe and Mary Hardin-Baylor recorded 12 shots over the course of the game, with the Crusaders outshooting the Petrels 6-4 in shots on goal. Mary Hardin-Baylor took six corner kicks to Oglethorpe's five.
The Petrels' tough early-season schedule will continue on Friday, Sept. 14, as they'll travel to Virginia to face another top 25 team. They'll take on No. 21 Lynchburg at 7 p.m. on that day, then continue to Newport News to battle Christopher Newport on Sunday, Sept. 16. After that, they'll head to Danville, Kentucky, for their SAA opener against Centre on Sept. 22.