The Gonzaga University men’s soccer team (3-2) came in swinging once again, taking a victory against the St. Thomas Tommies (0-6) on Luger Field, 2-0.
Right out of the gate, there was a level of scrappiness evident in GU’s playing that would evidently pull them to the top of a very steep climb. The Tommies played with equal force. Within the first half-hour of the game, the Zags maintained control of the offensive shots — seeing strikes from sophomore midfielder Leon Sitz and two from junior forward Demitrius Kiyega.
Kiyega’s swift offense proved to be integral to the Zag’s opening strategy, as he came close to making shots multiple times. In fact, much of the offensive plays from the Zags ended with near success.
“I would say really the confidence from the last couple of games,” said head coach Aaron Lewis. “Just getting off a mark in those games in California, coming through with two shutout wins. I think the guys are starting to believe in what we’re doing.”
However, aside from the insane energy from the Tommies defense, the key ingredient in keeping the ball out of the goal was their senior goalie Niklas Martensson. Nearly every time the ball came close to him, it almost magnetically found its way into his hands. His intensity was essential to setting up the Tommies for strong offensive plays.
For all of the first half and most of the second, both schools saw themselves in a total stalemate — a high energy back and forth.
One point of note for GU’s strategy that boded well for them was the consistent cycling through of the roster, as noted during the very beginning of the second half of the game. Head Coach Aaron Lewis made a point to keep the momentum going by exposing much of the roster to play this evening.
It was around 15 minutes to full time that GU’s sticky footwork and energy finally saw a breakthrough. After spending nearly two halves chipping away at St. Thomas’ barrier, the Zags finally scored. Courtesy of freshman forward Logan Dorsey, the Zags went up 1-0.
Though the Tommies attempted to comeback, they had petered out of steam.
In a hyper-speed play, Kiyega drove the ball right to the goal, only to have it be deflected but swiftly picked up and shot by senior midfielder Noah Bushey, bringing the score 2-0.
“We have a lot of players that can contribute in different ways,” Bushey said. “That really helps us. It helps us maintain that intensity after the game, bringing different players off the bench, so that really helps us.”
With only seven minutes of play left, the Tommies scrambled for something, but to no avail as the buzzer hit zero.
“When we play together, and the ball is palpable with multiple passes and sharing the ball, moving it from one side of the field to the other, we get really good chances,” Lewis said.