The men’s soccer team opened its season this past weekend with a pair of 1-1 draws against VCU and Butler at the VCU/Nike Classic in Richmond, Va. Playing in the first contests of their collegiate careers, goalie Mike Lansing ’16 and forward Jesse Klug ’16 took the spotlight for the Orange and Blue. Klug gave the Bison an early lead against VCU with his first collegiate goal while Lansing compiled a nine-save performance in which he allowed just one goal.
“Our team performed well for our first games out. We were up against very good teams, ones that our coaches believe will be going to the NCAA tournament,” Lansing said. “It felt good to make a few big saves and earn the respect of my teammates.”
Coming in against VCU, the Orange and Blue stunned the Rams with Klug’s goal just 18 minutes into the half. As has been the case many times over the past few seasons, the goal came off of a set piece when Brendan Burgdorf ’13 headed a free kick to a well-positioned Klug on the other side of the net.
“It was great to score my first goal in my first game, and equally as great that it was an important one against a good team,” Klug said. “VCU was honestly one of the best teams I’ve ever played, so I’m really glad to have gotten a result against them.”
The Bison were able to maintain the lead for the majority of the contest, but VCU striker Jason Johnson tied the game with less than 10 minutes remaining to send the game into overtime. During the extra play, the Bison relied on their rookie goalie once again to come up with three huge saves and preserve the tie.
“I think the team did really well in our first game this weekend,” Burgdorf said. “We played a very good VCU team, probably one of the best teams I’ve played in my career here, and we came close to beating them. I think it’s a sign of good things to come for the team moving forward.”
Coming off the 110 minute showdown with the Rams, the Bison battled their second Atlantic 10 opponent of the weekend and came away with the same result. Unlike the first, it was Butler that jumped out to an early 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs held the slim lead for the half, but the Bison put the pressure back on in the second half. In the 59th minute of play, Mayowa Alli ’14 threw an arching throw-in into the box which deflected off of a Butler player and ended up in the back of the net.
Against the Bulldogs, the Orange and Blue were able to generate a lot more pressure on the offensive side than their first matchup. Burgdorf and Josh Plump ’13 both finished with three shots apiece and the Bison recorded 14 throughout the contest. Lansing continued his strong play with five saves.
“I think our strongest asset was our work rate. We are still working out some of the kinks of playing with new teammates, but we all definitely worked for each other and came out of the weekend with good results,” Klug said. “I do think we still need to work on keeping more possession, but that will come with time.”
For the first time in 73 years, the Orange and Blue started their season with two draws. The Bison will take the field in search of their first win on Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. at Florida Gulf Coast.