After the Adidas Invitational in Ohio, the Christopher Newport University men’s soccer team was a flattering 1-2-1. Since that point, CNU has reeled off five straight victories with their latest coming Saturday night versus Wesley College in their first ever Capital Athletic Conference game. The win assures they will have a winning record on their latest home stand, already beating Lynchburg and Wesley, with one more game to play against Greensboro on Wednesday.
Senior forward Caleb Lewis was a crucial part of the victory against Lynchburg, helping set up the first goal just two minutes into the game with a beautiful cross to sophomore forward Ryan Balfour, then in the second half got the go-ahead goal in the 66th minute. Lewis helped out late again with a quick pass to junior forward Jalon Brown who then kicked it over to freshman Preston Key who booted it in and secured a 3-1 victory for CNU. Lewis was very straightforward on his performance, “We played like a team, we really started to click finally. I just happened to be at the right spot at the right time. With the assists, I have good teammates, if I give them the ball they’ll score.”
On Saturday, CNU played in its first ever CAC game and did not disappoint. The team kept attacking Wesley with an aggressive approach on offense. The Captains dominated play, consistently putting pressure on the Wesley defenders and goalie. Early in the game, Brown had a break away come up short as Wesley’s senior goaltender Mark Mattern made the save. Going into the half, Wesley and CNU were tied at 0-0. Brown finally tapped the ball past the keeper in the second half for a CNU lead in the 58th minute. From that point on, it was all Captains. In the 74th minute junior Tommy O’Neal scored with a header on a free kick to make it 2-0. Freshman Jimmy Grace scored his first goal in a CNU uniform in the 87th minute from a cross off sophomore Garrett Van Nutt to insure another CNU fifth straight victory.
Afterwards, Head Coach Steve Shaw was very positive, especially about his new players. “I think the younger guys are starting to really find their stride,” he said. “I like the way we’re playing, we have a deep bench, some of the younger guys are scoring goals and it’s awesome to see.”
One minor concern is injuries. Jalon Brown was hit in the face during the Lynchburg game and wore a mask against Wesley, sophomore Mark Brewington had to leave the game against Wesley for a short time because of a groin injury, and freshman Zach Hopkins is out for an undisclosed amount of time with possible torn ligaments. Yet, Coach Shaw wasn’t worried. “We got Jake Domenic to take over for [Zach Hopkins], he’s done a great job… Jalon’s nose is not broken, so [the mask] was a precaution.”
Lewis and Brown were not worried at all about the rest of the schedule. With Lewis realizing the difficulties, he said, “We are up to the challenge, we have a fairly talented group and we have a lot of depth.” Brown first addressed the nose injury he sustained against Lynchburg, stating, “It’s not broken officially, it’s getting better. Hopefully, at maximum next game would be the most I have to wear [the mask].” Later, he was optimistic on the rest of the season, “We started out rough at the beginning of the season. It’s good to come out and kind of dominate the game and kind of show everyone what we’re about.”