Tennessee Wesleyan College men's soccer traveled to Bristol, VA on Saturday for their first Appalachian Athletic Conference game of the season against Virginia Intermont College. This was the second year in a row that the teams had played in Virginia and last seasons contest was a close one that ended 1-0 to TWC. This year TWC knew what to expect and were suitably prepared for the game.
The game was back and forth in the early stages, TWC settled into the game the quickest and began to dominate. Unable to play their usual attractive pass and move soccer, they were forced to go more direct and go high pressure all over the park. This tactic was working for TWC and as the VI players were given no time on the ball TWC was forcing them into rudimentary errors.
TWC opened the scoring in the eighteenth minute when Martyn Freestone gathered the ball just inside the VI half, he turned quickly and played a lofted diagonal ball to Daniel Cardona in the TWC right. Cardona played a first time ball into the box for Luke Winter who controlled the ball with his first touch, slid it past his maker with his second and with his third touch he slammed a left footed shot into the corner of the VI goal. It was no more than TWC deserved for their hard work in the early stages of the game.
TWC doubled the lead five minutes later when the ever available Daniel Cardona picked up the ball on the TWC right. He went at his defender and played a ball inside to Martyn Freestone who controlled the bobbling ball, looked up and saw the keeper out of position and hit a rasping early left footed drive into the corner of the VI net, giving TWC the led 2-0. TWC had a number of shots on the VI goal, but couldn't add to the lead before the half.
TWC came out after the half with the same intensity and work rate they had shown in the first. Chances kept coming their way and in the fifty fifth minute TWC's Luke Winter made it 3-0. TWC left back Sam Clare cleared the ball out of the back, over the VI defense. Winter chased the seemingly lost cause, but a mix up between their defenders and keeper meant the ball fell to Winter who had the simple task of putting the ball into the empty net for his second goal of the game.
TWC made some changes and everyone who came on played their part to keep the pressure high on the VI team. Then with eight minutes left Winter secured his second hat trick in a week. TWC captain Billy Sparks delivered a free kick into the VI box, Garrett Koon challenged for the ball and as it fell in the box he played it back to Winter who curled a first time left footed shot into the corner of the net. This was the last action of the game as it ended TWC 4 VI 0. It was a great way to start conference play for TWC.
TWC's next game is home on Wednesday at 4pm against conference rivals Bryan College. Last year the two teams tied for first in conference regular season play, with Bryan winning the play offs and going to the NAIA National Tournament. Currently this year Bryan is ranked #12 in the nation.