Soccer Team’s Historic Run Comes to a Closeby: John Hobart ‘10
While the football team is making a run at an undefeated season, the soccer team has been creating quite the stir of its own. With Head Coach Josh Laux keeping the student body informed of the team’s success and upcoming events through school-wide emails, a buzz was generated around the Hill. The exciting, well-attended game against Randolph Macon pushed the team to 12-2 and wins in four out of their next five games, leading up to the ODAC semifinals vs. Lynchburg. The only loss in that five game stretch was a 2-1 double overtime loss to Lynchburg. The Tigers looked to avenge that loss in an ODAC tournament semifinal matchup with the Hornets.
The semifinal matchup was another game for the ages. President Howard, the Deans, and a large portion of the student body were out to support the Tigers as they faced a pesky Lynchburg squad. After getting several good chances in the first half, the Tigers finally capitalized when Nick DeProspero scored on an assist from Freshman Brandon Haynes. This would lead to a 1-0 Tiger lead at the half. Both teams seemed to come out with a new intensity in the second half and it showed on the field.
Hampden-Sydney goalkeeper John Robert Plyler was terrific as he had been all season. The Hornets had several shots drew gasps from the crowd before we were all able to exhale after amazing saves from Plyler. Despite his great play, the Hornets took a lead before anyone knew what had happened. A long cross into the box led to an easy goal, headed in by Michael Abbonizio who somehow got behind the Tiger defense. Only seven minutes later, Lynchburg was able to score another goal on a ball deflected off a hardworking Tiger defender. Just like that it was 2-1, and that’s how it would end. The Tigers certainly had their chances to tie it up, but several attempts were just wide of the goal.
Almost as impressive as the Tigers efforts this season was the overwhelming support they received from the entire H-SC community. President Howard called for all students and members of the H-SC family to attend the 2:30 p.m. semi-final matchup. Teachers even let their students out early to cheer on their classmates (the nice ones at least). After 2 hours of cheering on the Tigers and a little bit of heckling the Hornets, the fans were just as disappointed as the team. As the teams were shaking hands Head Coach Josh Laux saw something he never expected after a loss. In a school-wide email Coach Laux stated, “I was completely overwhelmed by your support of our team yesterday. I have never seen a losing team get that kind of reception before in my life. When the game was over and I was about to address the team I turned around and saw almost the entire crowd staring me in the face. When you all made a circle around us I got choked up and for once in my life was completely speechless.”
Coach Laux was right in describing the scene. Lynchburg did not know how to react as the losing team’s fans, led by President Howard, lined up on the field and applauded both teams’ efforts. Laux went on to say, “Hampden-Sydney is one of the few places where this type of support is a reality…Today was one of those days that just reminds us what a special place we are all a part of.”
These words should remind us that while athletic events very often get heated and intense, we are representing Hampden-Sydney College and the tradition of the Hampden-Sydney gentleman in both victory and defeat.