Defense anchors men’s soccer

Powered by an imposing defensive front, Generals Men’s Soccer rides a five game win streak into the postseason

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Goalie Gillen Beck, ‘18, has only allowed eight goals all season. Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info.

The age-old adage in sport is that defense wins championships.  Defense is a fundamental piece to competitive success, and a fundamental that the Washington and Lee Men’s Soccer team has crafted into an art this fall season.

The Generals have posted an overall record of 12-3-2 this season, putting them in first place in the ODAC. The high number of wins is a testament to the efficient offensive attack, but more important is the near miniscule number of losses, a testament to the seemingly impermeable defense.

“We are the team that’s let up the fewest goals all season in the ODAC, and our record reflects that,” goalkeeper Gillen Beck, ‘18, said. “But even in games that [the offense] hasn’t been so successful, the defensive success is something to fall back on and make sure we manage every game.”

Just how good has the defense been? Twice this season, the team has gone on a streak of three games without conceding a goal. A total of forty-six goals have been scored by both the Generals and their opponents this season. Only ten have come off the foot of an opposing player.

“Clean sheets are always a reminder of the hard work we have put in as a team to improve our defensive play,” captain Cary Carabasi, ‘16, said.

The back line is atypical of a standard defense. Without the prototypical big, strong players that muscle the offense off the ball, this defense has to play more technical.  They must read the game and react as plays happen.  The preparation the defenders go through allows this technical kind of play.

“In our preparation, we learn the tendencies of the other team and we force them to play outside of their comfort zone,” Patrick Barry, ‘17, said.

Along with preparation, team chemistry and communication have greatly contributed to the defensive success.  Because each defenseman has a different style of play, they must communicate and mesh their styles together.

“In order to have a solid defense, communication is key and enables us to have an organized back line,” Jack Miller, ‘19, said. “We all trust the skill and ability of the person playing next to us which makes us a more unified defense.”

Preparation and chemistry culminate into the precise execution that has dominated opponents all season.

“Execution is paramount as one defensive mistake often leads to a scoring opportunity for the opposing team,” Miller said.

In conference play, the Generals have only let in four goals, propelling them to a first-place conference record of 10-0-1.  With one game remaining in the regular season, the team is in a great position to do well in the ODAC Tournament.

“I think I speak for the entire defense when I say that we expect to not let a goal up through the end of the ODAC tournament,” Beck said.